DC Theatre Scene: August: Osage County
Forget all that you may have heard about August: Osage County. It is not a dark comedy where an Estelle Parson-ish virago grandmother skewers her pampered children with her acid tongue. It is instead a voyage into the land of the living dead, whose human weaknesses have led them into inhuman acts. It is fascinating and horrifying in equal measure…
[Rena Cherry] Brown, and Keegan, brilliantly underscore Violet’s vulnerability from the very first moment she staggers on stage, swaying as she makes her way down the stairs…
Yes, Violet is a mean-spirited old lady who says nasty things to the people she should love. But there’s a lot of that going on, and Violet is no worse than her little sister Mattie Fae, a gorgon who feasts on the inadequacies of her own son. [Kerry Waters] Lucas is superb at this, a real Medusa who may be using her son as revenge not against her husband but against herself.
In particular, [Susan Marie] Rhea as Barbara gives one of the angriest performances I have ever seen on stage, lashing out at her mother for her drug addiction, at her husband for his infidelity, and at her daughter for her inability to express her love for her.
This is the second consecutive production (following Spring Awakening) in which Keegan, and director Mark A. Rhea, deliberately walk away from convention and easy laughs to present a story as it most probably would have really happened. Rhea’s decision to emphasize Violet’s vulnerability (and Brown’s flawless execution of that decision) adds grace and power to Letts’ story, and allows the other characters to flower as full human beings, rather than merely as patsies.
DATEAugust 9, 2012