Gritty, haunting, intense...those are just a few of the words being used to describe the Ringgold Playhouse's (TRP) production of "True West" opening this week.

The classic Sam Shepard tale directed by Joanna Lewis will kickoff its seven-performance, two-weekend run at the historic Ringgold Depot Thursday night, April 19, and will dissect the dynamic of sibling rivalry like few plays ever have.

"Sam Shepard has brilliantly illustrated the dark humor, complexities, and the dichotomous themes of the American family," Lewis said. "He addresses the rivalry paired with fondness, the bonds and estrangement, and the hilarious yet dark dysfunction of it all."

After acting and stage managing with TRP over the past few seasons, Lewis is making her directorial debut with the show.

"This story has several motifs that resonated with me on a personal level, which is why I chose to tackle it as my first directorial effort," Lewis explained.

The story showcases the clash between an up-and-coming writer Austin (Jonathan Harris), and his older brother Lee (Adam Cook), a criminal drifter, who arrives uninvited and tries to swindle Austin's screenwriting deal out from under him by schmoozing big time Hollywood producer Saul (Steve Jordan). The story's action takes place in the California home of the duo's mother played by Julia Wyant.

"The brothers are tied to their roots and their equal upbringing, and yet both struggle to escape it," Lewis said. "They fight against each other to have their individual stories heard, yet the story that needs to be heard and is inevitably told, is really about them and their relationship. That's because the stories that engage us are not those that are contrived, but stories that are 'true to life'."

Sam Shepard's "True West"

Where: The Ringgold Playhouse (Ringgold Depot)

When: April 19-21 & 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at 2 p.m.

Cost: $10 general admission. $8 for seniors and students.

Phone: 706-935-3061

Twitter: @RinggPlayhouse

Lewis believes the story has a little something for everyone, and that audiences will connect with themes in the show.

"I feel that every individual has experienced some level of familial brokenness in their life, and that is what this play speaks to," she said. "It also addresses the fight within ourselves to tear off our labels, whether based on our past/upbringing or our own self-inflicted and confined identities."

Shepard's snappy dialogue and rugged ambiance are entertaining and impressive, as is the stamina of Harris and Cook, who deliver the goods while remaining on stage together for the play's entire two hours.

"This show is powerful, funny, and wildly entertaining," Lewis said. "I think that Adam and Jonathan have tackled these brothers and their relationship with enormous insight and fortitude, and I award them with respect and gratitude for all their hard work. The cast is wonderful, and I am confident that the performances will be compelling and that the audiences will be fully engaged, enthralled, and entertained."

Performances will run April 19-21 and 26-28 at 7:30 p.m., with a special matinee performance Saturday, April 28 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for seniors and students, and can be purchased in person at Ringgold City Hall, over the phone at 706-935-3061, or online at