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None Too Fragile’s production of ‘True West’ has characters you love to hate

Some folks go to the theater to be enlightened, educated, entertained, enthralled and thrilled. Then there are the shows that are just plain irritating. It’s like having an itch in the middle of your back that you cannot reach so you grab the back scratcher and go at it until you break the skin and now you have an entirely new problem. But this is OK. Some people go to the theater to be thusly simulated. Such is the case with the None Too Fragile production of Sam Shepard’s “True West” on stage through February 25th.

Austin (Natalie Green) is house sitting for her father who has gone off to Alaska for a spell. The house is a modest dwelling located 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Austin is married with children and lives “up north” when not tending to her father’s extensive collection of house plants. She is trying to break into the writing profession associated with television and movies. Austin has been developing an outline for a romance that has gotten the interest of Saul Kimmer (Brian Pedaci) who is “in the business.”

Austin’s vagabond sister, Lee (Rachel Lee Kolis) has showed up as an unwelcomed guest to the house. Lee is the polar opposite of Austin. She has recently returned from spending months of self imposed isolation in the dessert, seeing few people and living only with a fighting pit bull for company until the dog ran off. To say Lee is brash would be like saying that sulfuric acid might cause minor irritation. Everything out of her mouth is a lie. She makes a living breaking into homes and stealing anything she can carry. She never shuts up, is belligerent, combative and gets all of her nourishment from beer...lots of beer.

Austin has invited Saul to the house to discuss her project after somehow getting Lee out of the place. Saul is obviously on the make for the rather fetching Austin who pads off his advances. Lee returns early carrying a large television saying that she had picked it up from the repair shop. Lee convinces Saul to go golfing with her early the next day. As a side bet, Saul will read an idea Lee has for a movie. Lee wins the match at the last hole. She then gives a brief synopsis of her movie idea which Saul falls in love with. Returning home, Lee tries to convince Austin to write up the proposal but Austin refuses until Saul threatens to drop her project. After a long stint of heavy drinking, Austin morphs into Lee and visa versa as the two girls totally trash the house just in time for dad’s early return.

The mark of an excellent actor is in getting the audience to believe in their character no matter how deplorable. This cast is masterful in doing that. You truly dislike these people. There is not even a shred of human decency in any of them. You spend the entire play hoping that Karma will prevail and everyone gets their just desserts or at least a swift kick in the pants. Rachel Lee Kolis as Lee is a loud mouth bully that you want to rush the stage and slap the hell out of. Natalie Green as Austin in a mealy mouth “victim” who refuses to stand up for herself until she gets blotto on the booze. Brian Pedaci as Saul Kimmer is the poster boy for the Epsteinish inspired #Me Too movement with sleaze oozing from every pore. A. Neil Thackaberry as Dad solves his situation by leaving to get a hotel room until things cool off.

The show is aptly directed by Sean Derry who also designed the amazing set. The lighting design by Louis Williams is bright and airy giving a faux wholesomeness to the stage. Tom Barnes did the sound design which works well for the small space.

No doubt about it. This is a nasty play full of nasty people that you will find absolutely despicable and devoid of any humanly redeemable qualities. For those of you that love this “in your face” kind of theater it is right up your alley. If you are more of a delicate bent you might want to pass on this production. It is your choice.

The None Too Fragile production of “True West” will be on stage at their 732 West Exchange Street, Akron, Ohio location through February 25, 2023. For tickets and further information go to or call (330) 962-5547.


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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