A production that has a real emotional impact.
A play that leaves you in awe because of the skill of the execution, the intelligence of the script, and the talent of the performers.
August: Osage County is just such an experience.
It tells the story of the ultimate dysfunctional family, the Westons. The patriarch of the family is the intelligent (and somewhat eccentric) Beverly Weston (played with gusto by Robert Hutchens). He hires a live-in housekeeper (the lovely Sheila Meade) to look after his ailing - and abrasive - wife Violet (played with power and grit by Mary Poindexter Williams).
When Beverly goes missing the family returns for the first time in years to support Violet and look for answers - and in the process, long-held secrets (in this show, everyone has a secret) are revealed. The events that follow shake the family structure to its core.
The family includes the long-absent daughter Barbara (played with dynamic fire by Amy Carlson) who decides to take control - something she hasn’t been able to manage with her husband Bill (played both amiably and angrily by Simon Woods) and her rebellious daughter Jean (the engaging Amanda Maynus).
The other sisters are Ivy, the one who stayed to look after her parents and struggles with her resentment (played by a controlled and sensitive Kate Morris), and Karen, the flighty sister (played with energy and passion by Joanna Murdock) who arrives with her finance, the secretive and sketchy Steve Heidebrecht (played with authority by Tyler Bradley).
Rounding out the cast are relatives Mattie Fae Aiken (the luminous Linda Reynolds), her husband Charlie (a flinty Todd Green), their son “Little Charles” Aiken (a nervous and endearing Dylan Clark) and the local Sheriff, who has a history with Barbara (a sensitive Jonathan Maynard).
The cast and the script flow together flawlessly to bring this story to life. It’s a tale that is at times surprising, shocking, repulsive and (at all times) fascinating to watch. Secrets are revealed (some quite dark), truth is spoken and emotions laid raw. It’s a powerful, moving story that will be on your mind long after you leave the theatre.
When you first arrive at the Renaissance Theatre to see the play you’ll be struck by the size and complexity of the set designed and built by Greg Morris and Tom Olson (with the assistance of many others). It’s a three-story home brought to life on the stage, including (by my count) seven distinctive, perfectly-decorated rooms - and it’s as important, in its way, as any performer. It’s a professional product that any company would be proud to work on, and quite an achievement - kudos all around!
A few caveats - this is not a show for young children. It’s intense, it’s real - there is violence (both emotional and physical) and adult language and situations are included.
But for those mature enough to handle it, it’s a terrific production (it’s no surprise that the original play walked away with a swath of honors and awards).
Congratulations to the cast, crew and directors for crafting one of the Tri-state’s most impressive shows!
ARTS presents August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 19, 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. in the Renaissance Theater at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Show only tickets: $15, Dinner and Show tickets: $30. Call 304-733-2787 to make dinner and show reservations. Tickets can be bought online or at the door on the day of the performance.