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click to enlarge Joseph Wiens and Kevin Viol

Joseph Wiens and Kevin Viol

Michael Brosilow

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 22 2016
Price: $15-$35
sgtheatre.org
Kudos to actors Kevin Viol and Joseph Wiens—and to director James Yost and fight choreographer Christina Gorman—for their handling of the harrowing yet comically extreme stage violence in Shattered Globe Theatre's new production of Sam Shepard's 1980 play. Viol and Wiens play two brothers—very different men bonded by a traumatic shared family history—drunkenly trying to churn out a screenplay for a Hollywood western even though the movie industry has given up on the genre. Smaller, younger, submissive Austin (Viol) is a screenwriter; burly, volatile, dominant Lee (Wiens) is a drifter and part-time thief, recently returned to suburban LA after a mysterious, perhaps mystical sojourn in the Mojave Desert. As director Yost suggests in his program note, the characters may be seen as different aspects of the same person—perhaps the playwright himself, trying to reconcile his conflicting impulses as professional artist and rebellious outlaw. What once felt potent as a meditation on the decline of America's "Wild West" heritage today feels as out of date as the portable manual typewriter on which Austin taps out his script. But it's still catnip for actors, and Viol and Wiens have a field day with the material. —Albert Williams

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