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Everyman Theatre August: Osage County

By • Jan 28th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
August: Osage County
Everyman Theatre (Info) (Web)
Everyman Theatre
Through February 17th
3:25 with two 15-minute intermissions
$10-$65
Reviewed January 24th, 2013

Sixty miles northwest of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a family is pulled back together following the disappearance of its patriarch. The problems in this family range from depression to drug addiction to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse to incest to affairs to divorce, and, somehow, the production is still equal parts comedy and drama. The scenarios and situations are over-the-top and almost soap-opera-like, but somehow the cast makes everything feel like it is very real. It all causes the audience to wonder if this family is truly the epitome of dysfunction or more like every family than we care to admit. This is Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County at the skillful hands of Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre.

The first thing that demonstrates the intricate attention to detail that will hallmark the production is the set. It is not only a functional three-level house set, the walls of the house are actually embedded with pictures of the family growing up so that they appear as shadows on the walls. The set is filled with other little details, like authentic wear and tear on the banisters, that really transport the audience members into the home, while also reflecting the themes of the work in the set. Daniel Ettinger’s design is truly brilliant.

The same careful attention to detail is evident in the hand of Director Vincent M. Lancisi. In the creation of blocking that allows, at times, for characters to be silently interacting in one room while action takes place in another to other times when even multiple conversations are happening at once, Lancisi has actually created such verisimilitude that it is hard to believe that anything was rehearsed. The cast solidifies this illusion by embodying their characters and really living the events of the play.

In the wake of her husband’s disappearance, we find Violet Weston (Linda Thorson), a massive force to be reckoned, who spends the show moving between varying stages of high on prescription opiates. Her family members, who mostly seem to try to keep their distance, are now all gathering back around to deal with the situation. This includes her sister and her husband. Nancy Robinette brings to life the strong and sassy Mattie Fae, and Will Love is all heart in a beautiful performance as Charlie.

This also brings together Violet’s three daughters. In the hands of three extremely capable actresses, these daughters are the real center of the piece. Although Ivy (Beth Hylton) has never yet moved away, she is now finally considering breaking free of Oklahoma and her mother. Hylton is understated when necessary, and consistent and real in a difficult and complex role. Karen (Maia Desanti) has returned from Florida with her fiancé. Desanti brings instant energy to the stage, and she makes even her character’s difficult choices seem natural. The most striking performance and role, however, rests with Barbara (Deborah Hazlett). As Barbara teeters between sanity and madness, the past and the future, her family and her freedom, Hazlett brings the struggle underneath to the forefront in controlled degrees of authenticity.

Orbiting the edge of the insanity of the Westons are several other strong performances. Barbara’s husband Bill is played with sincerity by Rob Leo Roy, and her daughter, Jean, is well-handled by Heather Lynn Peacock. Veronica Del Cerro’s Johnna is mellow and solid through the chaos she witnesses. Clinton Brandhagen’s Little Charles manages to live in a world all his own, while Bruce Randolph Nelson, as Steve, reminds what can lurk behind surface charm.

The only significant critique of the production is the fact that Carl Schurr missed the mark in his opening monologue as Beverly. Although the character only appears in the opening 10-15 minutes of the show, his monologue should set the tone and the pace of the show. Instead, it was an amateur delivery that failed to create a character that hangs over the entire rest of the events. As a result, the entire first act struggled to pick back up the pace and energy. Luckily, it was up to Hazlett and Desanti to kick off the second act in style.

If you have had not yet had an opportunity to see this 2008 Tony Award winner for Best Play, you are unlikely to have an opportunity to see a better local production than this current production at Everyman Theatre.

Photo Gallery

Wil Love as Charlie Aiken and Nancy Robinette as Mattie Fae Aiken The cast of August: Osage County. Set design by Daniel Ettinger
Wil Love as Charlie Aiken and Nancy Robinette as Mattie Fae Aiken
The cast of August: Osage County. Set design by Daniel Ettinger
Deborah Hazlett as Barbara Fordham and Linda Thorson as Violet Weston The cast of August: Osage County
Deborah Hazlett as Barbara Fordham and Linda Thorson as Violet Weston
The cast of August: Osage County
Linda Thorson as Violet Weston Deborah Hazlett as Barbara Fordham, Beth Hylton as Ivy Weston, and Maia DeSanti as Karen Weston
Linda Thorson as Violet Weston
Deborah Hazlett as Barbara Fordham, Beth Hylton as Ivy Weston, and Maia DeSanti as Karen Weston
Beth Hylton as Ivy Weston and Clinton Brandhagen as Little Charles Aiken Deborah Hazlett as Barbara Fordham and Linda Thorson as Violet Weston
Beth Hylton as Ivy Weston and Clinton Brandhagen as Little Charles Aiken
Deborah Hazlett as Barbara Fordham and Linda Thorson as Violet Weston

Photos by Stan Barouh

Cast

  • Beverly Weston: Carl Schurr
  • Violet Weston: Linda Thorson
  • Barbara Fordham: Deborah Hazlett
  • Bill Fordham: Rob Leo Roy
  • Jean Fordham: Heather Lynn Peacock
  • Ivy Weston: Beth Hylton
  • Karen Weston: Maia Desanti
  • Mattie Fae Aiken: Nancy Robinette
  • Charlie Aiken: Will Love
  • Little Charles Aiken: Clinton Brandhagen
  • Johnna Monevata: Veronica Del Cerro
  • Steve Heidebrecht: Bruce Randolph Nelson
  • Sheriff Deon Gilbeau: Ron Heneghan
    • Production

      • Director: Vincent M. Lancisi
      • Scenic Design: Daniel Ettinger
      • Lighting Design: Jay Herzog
      • Costume Design: David Burdick
      • Sound Design: Chas Marsh
      • Dialect Coach: Gary Logan
      • Props Master: Jillian Mathews
      • Fight Choreography: Lewis Shaw
      • Dramaturg: Naomi Greenberg-Slovin
      • Stage Manager: Amanda M. Hall
      • Assistant Stage Manager: Ellen Houseknecht

      Disclaimer: Everyman Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.

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