Theater: City Coyotes Prowling the Brain

If phrenology were in vogue, Sam Shepard would be the most prized anatomical medicine man among U.S. playwrights. He knows how to feel every bump on or under the American skull. He views the U.S. mind as a nest of conflicted vision —the lost but lingering vernal dream of hope and purity vying with the corruptive greed of technological gimcrackery.

Shepard is most rewarding when he transforms his special war into myth. In his latest play, True West, he reworks the ancient tale of Cain and Abel. In the course of the drama, two brothers...

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