Theatre Mirror Reviews - "AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY"

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Note: Entire Contents Copyright 2016 by Tony Annicone



”AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY”

Reviewed by Tony Annicone



Footlight Rep's current show is Tracy Letts "August Osage County" which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize as well as five Tony Awards. It tells the story of the dysfunctional Weston family who all come together after the disappearance of patriarch Beverly Weston.The father opens the show when he is hiring an Indian woman, Johnna to look after his wife. He delivers these ominous words "My wife takes pills and I drink. That is the bargain we have reached" which opens the gates to the adventure and whirlwind journey that the audience takes in the three act play. The couple's three daughters, Barbara, Ivy and Karen are called back to the family home with husbands and beaus with them. Beverly's wife, Violet is battling mouth cancer and a growing dependency on pain pills. They return to comfort their mother in her time of need and to try to get to the bottom of their father's disappearance. Violet's entire clan returns including her sister, Mattie Faye Aiken and her husband, Charles and their son, Little Charles. As the clan bickers and jokes, old truths come to the surface, jealousies flourish and eventually each of the characters confront some past hurt and future fear. The door slam of each of the characters that leave Violet is a terrific moment in this show. It can be likened to Nora's door slam heard round the world in "A Doll's House" as this one takes place in the 21st century. Director Roger Machado-Fournier casts these roles beautifully and obtains stunning performances from his hard working cast in this dramedy. This is the first non-musical production he has directed.

Leading this cast is Cathy Taitz as Violet. Violet is an evil mom to end all evil moms, done with black comic moments thrown in the mix. She is topnotch in this riveting role. The lesson one must learn from these characters is be a good person or you will end up tasting your own poisonous venom. Her insults and put downs of the others around her are wonderful to behold. The sordid secrets of the past come tumbling out. Other colorful characters include Roger Caisse as Beverly, who delivers a strong monologue to open the show as well as Violet's strong willed daughters. Shandy Raposa commands the stage as Barbara and is brilliant throughout the show. Her argument scene with her real life husband Joey is a show stopping and mesmerizing moment in this show. He is terrific as Bill, her ex-husband. Another especially impressive scene is the battle between Violet and Barbara when they try to wrest control of the family from each other. Violet wants her help in Act 1 and continually insults and finally Barbara puts her in her place in Act 2 during the dinner from hell scene. It tells of the cruelty of family life and at times some kindness is thrown in the mix. Nicole Piona plays the youngest daughter, Ivy who has lived near her parents all her life. Now she wants to run off with Little Charles but there is a dark hidden secret that might explode at any moment. The argument scene with dish throwing between Shandy, Cathy and Nicole is riveting and electrifying. Sexpot sister, Karen is well played by Stephanie LaFontaine. She is engaged to Steve, a handsome cad in sheep's clothing who tries to seduce her 14 year old niece, Jean. Strong performances are given in these roles. Steve is played by Richard Cabeceiras and Jean by Maia Millard. Rounding out this amazing cast is Chris Mac as Charles Aiken, Margie Dube as Mattie-Fae, Joel Ward as Little Charles, Luz Marie Nunes as Johnna and Roger appears as the sheriff who brings news of the missing patriarch to the Weston family. So for a stunning, well written and provocative black comedy show, be sure to catch this well acted and well directed "August Osage County" at Footlights Rep. It will make you definitely appreciate your own family after witnessing this dysfunctional one. It strikes chords of familiar family problems that the audience can understand and relate to.

AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY (16 to 18 September)
Footlights Rep, Swansea Grange, 65 Milford Road, Swansea, MA
1(774)644-4539 or www.footlightsrep.net




THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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