THEATER: Arid Country

Sam Shepard's first play in a decade is windy and barren

A SEEDY MOTEL ROOM. DIRTY clothes piled at the foot of the bed. Two men are engaged in a long discussion of a crime they committed years before, involving the blackmail of a horse-racing official. Carter (Ed Harris) is well dressed, assertive, nervous. Vinnie (Fred Ward) is grungy, passive, primitive. We're in Sam Shepard country, all right, a place of blasted American dreams and macho power games. There was a time (Curse of the Starving Class, True West, Fool for Love) when that country was an essential stop on any tour of the American theater. No longer. Simpatico, Shepard's first new...

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