Copyright © 2017
AUSTIN (Joey Wright)
“There’s nothing real down here, Lee! Least of all me!”
Imagine growing up with an older brother who seems to be better than you in every way, at least in your father’s eyes. How do you distinguish yourself? How do you crawl out of his shadow? Well . . . maybe there’s a way to show people you’re actually better than him. Austin devoted his life to succeeding by the standards of the New West. He attended an elite Ivy League university on the east coast, far from his childhood home. He got married and started a family. Austin became the New West’s capitalistic Protestant ideal: the diligent, educated, workaholic who drives and consumes and reproduces.
So, Austin fits in. Or does he? Does all of his work and sacrifice matter? Is he really accepted? Does he really want to be? Austin’s relationship with Saul Kimmer shows that maybe all he’s done is turn himself into a useful tool for others, an object without dignity. That hurts, because Austin is Abel – the obedient son of his figurative New West father, Saul, whose favour he seeks, who represents the mainstream success and acceptance that Austin craves. What else does he have? He’s already rejected his biological father, and with him, the Old West.
We come to learn that Austin is neither as stuffy nor as satisfied as he appears to be – even to himself. He knows that he’s supposed to be grateful for the life he has, but he isn’t. He knows he’s done everything he can to be “normal”, but he still doesn’t feel it. Increasingly, fitting in feels like a trap. The façade of normality is beginning to crack and behind it Austin sees what he’s really worked to become: artificial.
Austin sees his future in his mother, though he isn’t quite ready to admit that. His relationship with his mother is psychologically distant, as opposed to the physically distant relationship with his father. She exists to fill a role, which she plays dutifully. And he plays his role in relation to her. But they have no deep connection, just a shared history and a shared script. She has fully embraced the artificiality demanded by the New West, and Austin finds himself falling into her routine domesticity, playing her role, when Lee is around.
So Lee’s presence forces Austin to confront himself with what he really wants, to face the deep ambivalence that’s been eating away at his soul. He resents Lee for being like his father, for not fitting in, for his criminality, for being an outsider. But he envies Lee for the same reasons. Lee has an authenticity and freedom that appeals to his deepest nature.
About JOEY WRIGHT
Joey Wright is thrilled to be making his Post Productions debut as Austin in True West. For the last five years Joey has been performing on stage and behind the scenes, most recently as Ed in Evil Dead: The Musical. Other recent roles include Herdsman in God Of Ecstasy, Roderigo in Othello, Euelpides in The Birds, Padme in Star Warped, and Man in Hard Hearts. He has had the opportunity to work with some of Windsor's finest artists and cannot begin to explain the importance of everyone's role in local theater – though if you ask him, he will try.
(Photo credit: Martin Ouellette of Churchwood Pictures, with Kieran Potter)