Game of tones
An American classic comes to the West End
British actors Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn have not unsizeable weights upon their shoulders this month, as they take joint lead in the West End premiere of Sam Shepard’s True West
— a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play by a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer — directed by Matthew Dunster.
True West centres on sparring brothers Austin and Lee holed up in their mother’s Californian home. Austin is a writer desperately trying to finish a script; Lee is his wayward older sibling there to distract and, you might wonder, sabotage him. Having not seen one another for five years, there is a heap of familial angst stored up.
The primary thing to nail is the accent, says Harington, “because it can completely ruin a performance for the audience.” But it’s a challenge. “I’m so painfully English as a person. It’s something about the cadence and rhythm of an American accent that I’ve never been entirely comfortable with. Also, Americans hold themselves and move in a different way.”
World famous now as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, Harington’s first role out of drama school in 2007 was in the National Theatre’s War Horse, and he has “missed being on stage very much” since last frequenting it, as the lead in Doctor Faustus in 2016.
His True West co-star Johnny
Flynn was most recently seen in ITV’s
Vanity Fair. Also a musician, he has composed original music for this production which, if his catchy theme tune to BBC Four’s Detectorists is anything to go by, you’ll be humming for months.
Vaudeville Theatre, London WC2, from 23 November; truewestlondon.com
Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn double up in True West