Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Bitter Fruit of "Osage County"

Drugs. Denial. Deception. Suicide. Abuse. Incest and infidelity.

The Weston family has it all, in Tracy Letts' Pulitzer-Prize winning tragic-comedy, "August: Osage County."

Every so often, we come across art, after which are not the same, nor would we be the same without having had the experience.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Director Chris Moore's rendition of this play is exactly that art. From the opening music to the skeletal set and carefully-cast characters, every element of "August" is rich, significant.

Why am I liking this? we wonder in the dark. What about this is so compelling? And what does this say about us as viewers?

Tension. It's piled up high, like mashed potatoes and gravy. Each character has conflict with every other. There's sharp wit and sharp tongues, and we want to see the actors unravel, to see their resolve. We want to know that we could survive all this, too, should it happen to us. We learn that our lives are not as bad.

We are all human is the message the play delivers. To what degree is unimportant. "There is a little bit of the Westons in each of our families," Moore writes in the playbill.

Pain. Love. Lies. Commitment: "August" explores what makes us family.

Crickets, cello, Violet's creep down the stairs: the exceptional irony in this play is Moore's tying together all the little details to show one family's falling apart.

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