BWW Reviews: Abster Production presents AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY - Amazing Performance!
Abster Productions presents the Regional Premiere of Pulitzer Prize winning AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY playing now through September 30th in Boulder, CO. At the Westons’ Oklahoma farmhouse, the patriarch, Beverly, goes missing. The family gathers together at The Farmhouse hoping for good news, but after five days, his body is found in a lake, a presumed suicide. The play takes us through the family’s pain, not just over Beverly’s death, but of living in a very dysfunctional family for many years. Violet, the drug-addicted, brain-addled matriarch, her three daughters, and their families try, unsuccessfully, to work out their problems from the time they arrive hoping to find Beverly, through his funeral, and on into the next day.
I have to say that I can see why this is an award winning show and deserves every accolade possible. This show is gritty, raw vicious, and real and exposes this families failures and disappointments and follows what each member does to pick up the pieces and survive. It reminded me of a cross between play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and the movie Secrets and Lies. Watching Violet completely alienate and devastate rate each of her family members and the OMG twists had me feeling a little beat up by the end of the show. You really needed both intermissions to process everything that is happening in this challenging show.
I must say that this entire ensemble is first class and worked well as the definitive dysfunctional family and there was such wonderful chemistry amongst them all while dealing with all of this raw emotion. I also appreciated that they did not overact in this show (which would have been easy to do in such a emotional show), but rather just let the story unfold itself. There are roles that come along that are opportunities of a lifetime and Violet Weston is one of them. Her character is complete with a defect, bitterness, quick wit, a complete breakdown and more and Anne Oberbroeckling took this challenge head on and her interpretation was truly extraordinary. Quite honestly her performance was master class and will haunt me forever. I didn't know what to make of her when she stumbled down the stairs incoherent and under the influence but I could not take my eyes off of her through the entire show. Her final scene when she lets out this guttural cry at the loss of her entire family shook me to my soul and this in one performance that you do not want to miss. Her husband, Beverly Weston (played intensely by Wade Livingston had a smaller role, but he set the tone for the entire show. I love how he was telling the story, not with bitterness, but rather in an air of defeat which made his captivating monologue heartfelt and bittersweet. Abby Apple-Boes as the favorite estranged daughter Barbara Fordham was stellar in her performance. I loved how she found the strength to stand up to her mother, and confront her husband instead of living in constant denial. Her transformation in Act III was quite fascinating to watch as she eerily started turning into her mother and I loved her metamorphosis into the independent woman that was able to break free of her mother's grasp and finally get out of her shadow. Lisa Kraii as Ivy Weston was another interesting character playing a more subdued role until the shocking confession in Act II. Her reactions about the earth-shattering news in Act III was so well played and I loved her facial expressions from conflict to resolution on this twist. Missy Moore was adorable and brought some much needed comic relief in the beginning of Act II with her pursuit of the perfect man. She was just a neurotic and fun character that even in the worst of circumstances, stands by her man. The three sisters were also perfectly cast and their interactions with each other were so sisterly and natural. Kerry Beebe was funny and so conflicted in her character as Violet's sister Mattie Fae Aiken. She really played out the burning disappointment in her family and when you find out the truth, her reactions are wonderfully charged. Her husband, played by Gary Leigh Webster was more of a mellow role at first and I loved when Charlie Aiken Webster found the strength to stand up to his domineering wife for the sake of his son. Shane Delavan was awesome in his portrayal of the physically handicapped son, Charles Jr. and really tugged at the heart strings. Jay Louden as Bev's estranged husband Bill Fordham was top notch and I loved the levels of emotion that he brought to the table. Christine Sharpe was hilarious as the 420 daughter Jean Fordham. Her role was quite humorous, sweet and youthful. Matt Maxwell as Ivy's fiancée Steve Heidebrecht was just downright creepy and uncomfortable to watch (and that is a compliment). I loved Amada Kowalski's tender and reflective performance as Johanna Monevata which captured the audiences heart's. Her final scene consoling Violet was so beautiful to watch and I know there was not a dry in the house.
This was quite an impressive set (by Master Carpenter Jeff Jesmer and Properties Coordinator Peg Bolan) for such a small space and they used every available space for this wonderful two-story set. I loved that the set looked like you could just move right in and looked quite pleasant, which hid all the emotional damage that was to come. Director Peter J. Hughes made genius casting choices in this emotionally charged drama and really drew out everything he could from this talented cast and it showed onstage. Also the flow in this show was fabulous and he was quite conscious to take those little pauses for the audience to react to those head spinning and jaw dropping twists.
This masterfully acted show is totally worth the trip to Boulder and my only wish is that they would extend the run for another week. There is still time to see this absolutely moving production of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY playing now through September 30th. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder, CO. For tickets or more information, contact the Dairy Center by calling 303-444-7328 or online at www.thedairy.org or at www.AugustOsageBoulder.com.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rachel Graham
Pictured Above: Anne Oberbroeckling as Violet