If you want to see two actors working their butts off, look no further than the Old Town Theatre, where Francis Gercke and Manny Fernandes are co-starring in Sam Shepard’s brutish drama True West. It’s the grittier, more physical of the two plays comprising Cygnet Theatre’s “Shep Rep,” which presents Shepard’s Fool for Love and True West on alternating nights. Gercke and Fernandes attack each other, virtually destroy every prop on the stage and writhe on the debris-strewn floor throughout Shepard’s unrelenting story of two brothers, the mythology of Hollywood and toast. Toast, you say? Trust me – it plays a supporting role in True West. As for the play itself, Shepard’s been overpraised for this one, which props up two completely unsympathetic characters and asks us to give a damn. Truth is, we don’t.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.