Wednesday, December 05, 2007

August: Osage County

Photo/Joan Marcus

If I only had a script, I'd be able to sit here and dissect the powerful final scene from the second act (of three), an 11-person family meal that goes from comic pratfalls (awkward Little Charles and his spilled casserole), to a graceless recitation of grace (steady, sterile old Uncle Charlie), to a comic aside about the dangers of eating meat (according to precocious granddaughter Jean, meat is just a container for chemically processed fear), to a series of scathing, loveless remarks (from the shaky, pill-popping matriarch, Violet), to a physically violent breaking point (the frayed, eldest daughter, Barbara), and the hilarious blocking for what should be terrifying. This scene, which incorporates every bit of character introduced in the first hundred minutes, should be a chaotic mess, but it's so naturally written that you'd never notice. Between the excellent craft of these Steppenwolf actors, the layers of deep dialogue and nuanced thought from playwright Tracy Letts, and the impressively orchestrated direction from Anna D. Shapiro, this scene is a boiling point that captures not only the generational gap, but the emotional gap, too, and the way in which dysfunction has become the new function. Whether you're taking uppers, downers, or both, this show is the all-around riot of a show that it's literally cracked up to be.

[Read on] [Also blogged by: David]

No comments: