Daily News from New York, New York on March 10, 2000 · 66
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Daily News from New York, New York · 66

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Friday, March 10, 2000
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CD (0 Hoffman & Reilly's role-swapping adds to Sam Shepard classic a o o o CN TRUE WEST. By Sam Shepard. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly, Robert LuPone and Celia Weston. Sets by Rob Howell. Directed by Matthew Warchus. At the Circle in the Square. Tickets, $55. (212) 239-620O. This new production of Sam Shepard's 1983 classic is so good, they've made it twice. Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly alternate the main roles, creating, in effect, two versions of the play. Even if this were no more than a gimmick, it would be a good one. These are splendid actors, and any excuse to display the" range of their talents is welcome. But the dramatic double take involved in the switching of roles is, in fact, a valid expression of the nature of the play. Hoffman, whose film career has gone into orbit with "Magnolia" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley," is all set to become the most forceful actor of his generation. Reilly, though less spectacular, is a wonderfully wily performer. The characters they take turns with are brothers, Lee and Austin. Lee is a hard-edged loser who survives by robbery. Austin is an Ivy League graduate trying to make it as a Hollywood screenwriter. In Shepard's world, though, these apparent opposites exist only to be exploded. Shepard's America is a very raw place, where civilization is just a veneer stuck onto the encroaching wilderness. Families fragment. Even in the most suburban breast, there beats the fatal pull of the desert. In "True West," this wilderness is both a physical and an emotional terrain. The action is set in a California suburb where the coyotes come down at night and kill the cocker spaniels. Lee has spent months living in the Mojave, and their father has withdrawn completely into the desert. FINTAN OTOOLE In the hands of an ordinary writer, the play would be a straightforward clash between Lee's outlaw wildness and Austin's more conventional modern ambitions. But Shepard brilliantly confounds the cliches. It soon becomes clear that each brother really wants to be the other. Lee fancies himself as a screenwriter, and Austin has Boy Scout fantasies of escaping to the desert. They are two halves of what might be a whole person, each doomed to remain incomplete. In the dizzy rush of the plot, the brothers begin to change places. At first with hilarious absurdity and then with a deathly madness, each begins to occupy the other's ground. The slimy producer to whom Austin is trying to sell his latest project falls instead for a corny Western that Lee has dreamed up. Austin tries his hand at Lee's profession of robbery. This dark comedy of slippery identities is what makes Hoffman and Reilly's decision to alternate the roles much more than a gimmick. It gets right to the core of Shepard's vision of two men trying to inhabit the same personality. In either version, though, this is by far the funniest, truest and most mesmerizing play on Broadway. Matthew Warchus' production strikes a perfect balance between humor and darkness. He travels through the complex emotional landscape of the play without ever getting lost. With such fine staging, superb writing and a brilliant cast, "True West" allows Hoffman in particular to show why Hollywood can't get enough of him. But it also reminds us with its vivid immediacy and raw power that the live stage can still be a place fit for such a talent. ft , I - CM J- I -t sx - pf rr . : . ,mmLrl, " j t.SCi John C. Reilly (left) and Philip Seymour Hoffman as brothers in "True West" Maximum expo-sure to art at Javits By MILA ANDRE DAILY NEWS FEATURE WRITER pread across an area the size of four .football fields, the 22nd annual Art-"expo New York brings 600 art exhibi tors to the Javits Convention Center this weekend. Paintings, graphics.limit-ed editions, sculpture, ceramics, glassworks, jewelry and everything else that's "art" will be on display at this colossal event probably the biggest collection of (mostly) affordable art New Yorkers will see this year. Some artists not to miss: Stephen Holland, who does beautiful paintings and prints of athletes like Joe Namath and Oscar De La Hoya; Romero Britto, who will show his commemorative stamps that were comissioned by the UN; Yuroz, who will put pencil to blouse or shirt so you can be a walking painting; Howard Behrens, whose latest book, "Romance With the Sun," is unveiled tomorrow; and Neil Loeb and Ron English, two of the artists whose works are on the Benihana calen dar, "One Planet, One People." Lithographs of all 12 months will be sold at Loeb's booth, with proceeds going to charity. Speaking of charity, don't miss "Diva ' Inventive Irish 'Dancing' By PATRICIA O'HAIRE DAILY NEWS FEATURE WRITER Dishes," a dinner set that was designed and signed by such Broad way stars as Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Nell Carter and Sandy Duncan. The dishes are for sale via silent auction to help Broadway CaresEquity Fights AIDS. Visitors to the Artexpo at the Javits Center this weekend can catch Stephen Holland's poster portrait of the Mets' Mike Piazza; stay posted on UN stamps by Romero Britto, and uncover the wide-eyed wonders of James Rizzi's lithograph "Peek-a-Boo." Artexpo New York is at the Jacob JC Javits Convention Center, 11th Ave. and 35th St Open today 10 a.m.-7 p.m. to the trade (galleries, architects, interior designers, professional buyers); to the general public tomorrow 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. -6 p.m., Mon. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission: $15, kids under 12, free. For more information, call 1-800-331-5706 or go to www.artexpos.com. DANCING ON DANGEROUS GROUND. Choreographed and performed by Jean Butler and Colin Dunne. Directed by Lindsay Dolan. Music written and arranged by Sea-mus Egan. Sets by Tim Hatley; costumes created by Hat-ley and Frank Gardiner. At Rad'o City Music HaiU For what has probably been centuries, Irish dancing was strictly jigs,: reels and hornpipes heavy on the heels and always, always with hands glued to the sides and upper torso stiff as an ironing board. ' Oh, how things have changed since "Riverdance" whirled across American stages four years ago! (It returns to the Gershwin Theater on Thursday.) Since then, Michael Flatley the original choreographer of "Riverdance" has appeared in his own show, "Lord of the Dance." And now, Colin Dunne and Jean Butler, Flatley's one-time partner, have brought "Dancing on Dangerous Ground" to town for a short run through Sunday before heading out on a national tour. Although the show is loosely based on a Celtic legend the story of two young lovers, Diarmiiid and Grania, being pursued by Grania's elderly husband, Finn McCool it's told through dance, mostly tap, with an occasional voice-over to explain the action. The story line is about as plausible as the one for "Swan Lake," but being logical never hurt that ballet, either. Unfortunately, one can get too much of a good thing, and while the precision dancers are creative and Dunne and Butler move with grace, charm and a good helping of sexiness, the choreography has a sameness about it throughout. Sail, Seamus Egan's score is lovely provocative and heavy on percussion, just like the dancers. Shows are today through Sunday at 8 p.m., with matinees tomorrow at 2:30 and Sunday at 3. Tickets are $35-$75 and can be picked up at the box office or purchased through , Hcketmaster, (212) 307-7171. . ; ,,- i i

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