True West

Vaudeville Theatre
The Strand, London

Public Previews: 23 November 2018
Opens: 4 December 2018
Closes: 16 February 2019

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Nearest Tube: Charing Cross / Covent Garden

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Theatre seating plan

Show times
Monday at 7.30pm
Tuesday at 7.30pm
Wednesday at 7.30pm
Thursday at 3.00pm and 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 3.00pm and 7.30pm
Sunday no show
Sat 24 Nov at 7.30pm only
Tue 4 Dec at 7.00pm only
Mon 24 Dec no shows
Tue 25 Dec no shows
Wed 26 Dec no shows
Sun 30 Dec at 3.00pm and 7.30pm
Tue 1 Jan no shows

Runs ? hours and ? minutes

Seat prices
? to ?
Premium Seating also available
(plus booking fees if applicable)

True West

The West End Premiere of Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1980 play True West in London starring Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn for a strictly limited three month season

In Southern California, Austin is working on a movie script that he has sold to producer Saul Kimmer when his drifter brother Lee stumbles back in to his life. Never content to watch from the sidelines Lee pitches his own idea to Kimmer, an action which then has far reaching consequences... as brother is pitted against brother, exposing the cracks in the American Dream.

The cast features Kit Harington as 'Austin' and Johnny Flynn as 'Lee', with Donald Sage Mackay as 'Saul Kimmer' and Madeleine Potter as 'Mom'. Directed by Matthew Dunster with sets by Jon Bausor, costumes by Jon Bausor, lighting by Joshua Carr, music by Johnny Flynn and sound by Ian Dickinson.

Kit Harington's previous West End theatre credit was playing the title role in Jamie Lloyd's revival of Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2016. Johnny Flynn's London theatre credits include the role of 'Mooney' in Matthew Dunster's production of Martin McDonagh's play Hangmen at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2015; the role of 'Lady Anne Neville' in Tim Carroll's 'all-male' revival of Shakespeare's Richard III at the Apollo Theatre in 2012; and the role of 'Viola' in Tim Carroll's 'all-male' revival of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Apollo Theatre in 2012.

Sam Shepard's plays include Buried Child which was last seen in the West End at the Trafalgar Studios in 2016 starring Ed Harris, Jeremy Irvine, Amy Madigan and Charlotte Hope; and Fool for Love which was last seen in the West End at the Apollo Theatre in 2006 starring Juliette Lewis and Martin Henderson.

True West in London at the Vaudeville Theatre public previews from 23 November 2018, opens on 4 December 2018 and closes on 16 February 2019


Original London Production National Theatre 1981

Previewed 2 December 1981, Opened 10 December 1981, Closed 31 May 1982 in repertory at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre

The cast featurd Bob Hoskins as 'Lee' and Antony Sher as 'Austin' with Shane Rimmer as 'Saul Kimmer' and Patricia Hayes as 'Mom'.

Directed by John Schlesinger with designs by Grant Hicks, lighting by Rory Dempster and sound by Chris Jordan.


London Revival Donmar Warehouse 1994

Previewed 9 November 1994, Opened 10 November 1994, Closed 3 December 1994 at the Donmar Warehouse

The cast featured Mark Rylance and Michael Rudko as 'Austin'/'Lee' (alternated roles) with David Henry as 'Saul Kimmer' and Marcia Warren as 'Mom'. Directed by Matthew Warchus with music by Claire Van Kampen.

On the official 'Opening Night' Mark Rylance played 'Lee' and Michael Rudko played the role of 'Austin'. This production transferred to London following a season the month earlier at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

"In this excellent production by Matthew Warchus of Sam Shepard's True West, Mark Rylance and the American actor Michael Rudko are alternating as the two brothers: Austin, an uptight, clean-cut Ivy League screenwriter who is house-sitting for their mother in southern California; and Lee, a lager-slurping, filthy, semi-literate vagrant and house thief who has been out in the desert and who returns, as the quintessential brother-from-hell, to put his disgusting feet on the kitchen table and a canny finger on his sibling's insecurities... At the Donmar press night, Mark Rylance played Lee in an account of the part that is a miracle of comic timing, understated menace and deranged, loopily self-defeating violence. What makes it both very funny and highly unnerving is the rhythm he gives to the perfomance, constantly making you think that this bedraggled figure, with his nagging drawl and his high, thin, derisive cackle, has either mentally taken his eye off the ball or physically lost all semblance of composure... I saw Rudko play Lee (frankly, the more gratifying of the roles) at the press night at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, where the production originated. They bring an intriguingly different physical presence to the part (Rudko comes over as a skinny, balding bird with a corncrake, whiny drawl and burningly fatigued eyes) that subtly alters the dynamic of the relationship... The production is a treat, whichever way round the roles are played - or at least a treat for those of us who haven't got to clear up, each night, the trashed set." The Independent

"There is a nice logic in Mark Rylance and Michael Rudko's decision to alternate the parts of the two brothers in this mostly admirable revival of Sam Shepard's sharpest play, Benedict Nightingale writes. After all, each character envies the other for having qualities he himself lacks. Add them together, and you might have a complete person, instead of two frustrated half-men, doomed to stay resentfully apart... You can see Shepard's not-so-funny point. As he himself once put it, 'we're split in a more devastating way than psychology can reveal. It's not some little thing we can get over. It's something we've got to live with.'" The Times

"What once seemed a mechanistic play about role-reversal now seems a mythic study of fraternal division. We are in a kempt, orderly southern California suburb. Austin is holed up in his mother's kitchen trying to work on a Hollywood screenplay. His nomadic older brother Lee, ragged and dirty after three months in the Mojave desert, arrives to disrupt this cosy retreat. At first Lee is content with petty burglary. Gradually he forces Austin to type up his own movie scenario - a contrived, old-fashioned western - which he manages to sell to his brother's producer. While Lee vainly strives to take on the role of a Hollywood hack, Austin turns to drink, dare-devil theft and a yearning for the solitude of the desert. In outline, it sounds dryly schematic. What makes the play so rich is Shepard's profound understanding of the spiritual incompleteness of each brother and, by extension, of the American experience. Austin represents controlled urban man who yearns for a return to natural self-reliance. Lee, driven into the desert by harsh necessity rather than a philosophic dream, equally pines for suburban security. The producer, who wants them to work together, thinks they're the same person: Shepard's point, however, is that each is a partial, incomplete being steeped in a romantic dream of the other's existence. Warchus's production acknowledges this point by alternating the casting. On the first night we saw Mark Rylance as the violent, threatening Lee and Michael Rudko as the initially temperate Austin and each was magnificent." The Guardian

True West in London at the Donmar Warehouse previewed from 9 November 1994, opened on 10 November 1994 and closed on 3 December 1994


London Revival Tricycle Theatre 2014

Previewed 4 September 2014, Opened 9 September 2014, Closed 4 October 2014

The cast featured Alex Ferns as 'Lee' and Eugene O'Hare as 'Austin', with Steven Elliot as 'Saul Kimmer' and Barbara Rafferty as 'Mom'.

Directed by Phillip Breen with designs by Max Jones, lighting by Tina McHugh and music and sound by Andrea J Cox.

This was a transfer from the Glasgow's Citizen Theatre where this production - faturing Alex Ferns and Eugene O'Hare in the two lead roles - was presented in October 2013.