True West, Perfect Note Productions, at the Athenaeum Theatre. It seems that every summer numerous productions of True West crop up, most by new companies packed with untried actors eager to test the skills they learned in school. Most of these productions are forgettable, but every once in a while a company like Perfect Note comes along, filled with actors who want to do the work Sam Shepard's tough script demands.
From the opening minutes of the first act to the last tense tableau, Lester Keefe and Scott Antonucci play each of Shepard's beats to maximum effectiveness. As Lee, Keefe is every inch the black sheep, the brother who takes after the alcoholic old man. Antonucci is equally convincing as the whiny, passive-aggressive, but successful writer brother, Austin. Joe Mack as film producer Saul walks and talks with the easy confidence of a young, fit, but essentially shallow executive. And Lynne Hall wisely underplays the daffiness of the mother (all too many actors go way over the top, which makes the ending too comical).
In the last five years I've seen this play half a dozen times or more, but this production showed me new facets--director Heather Brown understands how to mine the riches in what might be Shepard's best play.