August: Osage County
I have been to a number of shows at the Citadel over the six years I have resided in Edmonton, but August: Osage County was by far the most engaging performance I have seen.
Set outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma, August: Osage County provides a glimpse into the turbulent lives of the Weston family, as they come together in an impromptu reunion after Dad disappears. If you had a checklist of textbook dysfunction you could put a tick beside most as layers of complex family secrets are revealed. Although the play was difficult to watch at times, given the heart-wrenching subject matter, there was something in each riveting scenario that spoke clearly of the human experience.
In addition to the human element, the humour was intoxicating. The play was laced with a dark humour that left me doubling over with laughter, as I was squirming in my seat. The set, a cross-section of a large three-story country home, gave the impression that you were spying on the Westons. At times I felt like an intruder in an intimate family history, which gives credit to how convincing the players were!
With award-winning Fiona Reid and the incomparable Brenda Robins in leading roles, and a cast of 11 other talented Canadian actors, there did not seem to be a weak link in the performance. All the characters were strong and engaging, and the inter-relational dynamics were explosive. The only character I wished I could learn more about was the housekeeper, Johnna, who played a pivotal role, but was always on the sidelines. Perhaps the playwright, Tracy Letts, was paying heed to the class divisions and racial tensions played out between Johnna and the Weston Family.
My only hesitation in recommending this play is the intensive subject matter. Touching upon a wide array of challenging family-drama, August: Osage County could prove difficult to watch for those who have experienced similar situations in their personal family histories.
Stay tuned for a film production of August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, set to be released in the fall!