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LOCAL EVENT: 'True West' offers poignant look at the lives of two brothers

Special Photo
 Eric Michael Bragg, left, and Jeffrey Scott Bailey, right, play brothers Austin and Lee in Red Phoenix Theatre Company’s production of “True West.” 

Special Photo Eric Michael Bragg, left, and Jeffrey Scott Bailey, right, play brothers Austin and Lee in Red Phoenix Theatre Company’s production of “True West.” 

Eric Michael Bragg slipped into the mind-set of seeing Jeffrey Scott Bailey as an older brother fairly easily.

The two men are essentially co-workers, both serving as co-artistic directors of Red Phoenix Theatre Company. But on stage at the outset of the professional theater’s current production, “True West,” the two are at odds, Bailey the older sibling, a drifter and thief, and Bragg the successful screenwriter with a family. When the two estranged brothers reconnect at their mother’s desert home, their roles are gradually reversed as chaos and comedy ensue while playwright Sam Shepard’s script offers what Bailey calls a poignant look at the lives of two brothers.

If you go

• What: “True West”

• When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday through Oct. 2

• Where: Red Clay Theatre, 3116 Main St. in Duluth

• Cost: $20

• For more information: Call 770-866-6539 or visit www.redphoenix.org

“That’s what so exciting about Shepard,” he said. “You have the whole wide range of human condition inside of (the play). It’s such a wide range of emotion.”

“One of the things about Shepard’s writing is he manages to capture not only the voice of each character,” Bragg added, “but he finds ways that every audience member can relate to the dysfunctional family. Shepard just has this masterful way of crafting characters in situations (people) can relate to.”

Staging a production of “True West,” what some consider Shepard’s greatest work, has been one of Bailey’s longtime ambitions, but one he knew would come to fruition only when the timing was right and the right actors could take the stage.

“It is a piece that I have always wanted to tackle but it takes a certain amount of maturity,” Bailey said. “You can’t just show up. It’s one of those shows (that’s) like mountain climbing with bad equipment. You have to make sure you’re going in completely ready to go every time. If the right equipment’s not there you’re going to fall.”