As the temperatures warm, we tend to go to the beach, huddle in air-conditioned homes, and find other ways to stay cool. For one family in a home outside of Pauhuska, Oklahoma however, the heat is turned up full. AUGUST:OSAGE COUNTY is the latest offering from Dramateurs, Inc. at the Barn, and a hot production it is, indeed.
The story revolves around the Weston family…Beverly (Bill Braak), a besotted former teacher and poet, and his wife Violet (real-life wife Deb Braak), who abuses pills to excess. Beverly hires Johnna (Leslie Stillings) to serve as cook, housekeeper, and defacto sitter for Violet, and shortly thereafter disappears. Violet summons her children home; Barbara (Laura McWater), who arrives with estranged husband Bill (David Nilolas) and precocious daughter Jean (Hanna Paczowski); Ivy (Lauren Kerstetter) who has stayed local to take care of her mother; and arriving much later, Karen (Heather Reese) who brings along her fiance, ne’er do well Steve (Josh Gould.) Also in attendance are Violet’s sister Mattie Fae (Lauren Rozensky Flanagan) and her husband Charlie (Mark Schule), and later, their son Little Charles (Paul Recupero). Their anxious wait for news about Beverly brings out the worst in Violet, and her interactions with her children brings old wounds back to life. When the Sheriff (Eric Rupp) arrives with news of Beverly, the heat turns up even more…
Director Aaron Gould assembled a fantastic cast for this production. From top to bottom, every character was spot-on. Deb Braak was perhaps a bit too “likable” at the outset, but this made her bitter turn more startling. Flanagan as Mattie Fae brought several layers to what could have been a throw-away character, and made the family turmoil more believable. McWater was solid as the oldest daughter, reluctantly forced to take charge, then over time becoming what she disliked most. Schule also brought a lot to the table as Mattie Fae’s husband, who accepted much, but finally had enough. And Recupero was terrific as Little Charles, nervous, intimidated, and yet with a hidden side that was endearing.
Gould’s vision for the production was also spot-on…the pace and feel of the show was great, never descending into melodrama, keeping the audience guessing as to what was going to happen next. And, when those moments occurred that were shocking, the audience audibly responded…a testament to the direction and the performances on stage.
This is another one of those plays that has gotten a lot of work this year. However, the production at Dramateurs is worth seeing, even if you have seen it somewhere else. Well done to cast and crew…may you have a successful run.
Dark Comedy by Tracy Letts
Directed by Aaron Gould
June 13-21, 2014
Dramateurs at the Barn
Christopher Lane & Rittenhouse Blvd
Jeffersonville, PA 19408