BWW Review: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at Little Theatre Of Manchester At Cheney Hall

BWW Review: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at Little Theatre Of Manchester At Cheney Hall

On April 13, I had the pleasure of seeing AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at Little Theatre of Manchester at Cheney Hall. This amazing three-act play by Tracy Letts is an emotionally intense drama with well placed comedic elements. Director Michael Forgetta brings out the best in this stellar cast, creating a first-rate show that draws the audience right into the story, with a deliberate intensity so powerful that it enables us to feel the characters' emotions.

The set is breathtaking, depicting the two story house in which the show takes place. Lighting effects, sound effects, and strategic use of the spotlight enhance the realistic feel of the story. There are numerous moments when characters are in their respective rooms in the house, while the central focus is upon other characters in other rooms. This works incredibly well, keeping every cast member in character on stage, even when the spotlight is on the other characters.

The stage chemistry among the cast is so tight that it is easy to forget that they are not a real life family. While the characters may be members of a very dysfunctional family, it takes strong cooperation and teamwork from an extremely talented cast to realistically convey the level of family discord that was deliberately brought to life on stage.

The central storyline involves three generations of an estranged family coming back together and opening up old wounds, while also discovering new excuses not to get along. The story sends a strong message that the failures of one generation will keep trickling down until someone breaks the cycle. We see the far reaching consequences of a single mother allowing the new men she dates to beat her children; she eventually has a great-granddaughter who smokes pot, regularly, at age fourteen.

Debi Freund provides an award-worthy performance as the central character, Violet Weston, the matriarch of the family. Violet has cancer and is on all kinds of drugs that often make her very loopy. At other times, she can be filled with rage and downright mean. Regardless of Violet's mood or attitude, Debi Freund successfully sells every line she delivers, making Violet seem like a real person.

Jane Cerosky is totally believable as Barbara, who is Violet's oldest of her three daughters. Barbara's personality is clearly influenced by Violet who now has to face who she created, someone who, according to middle daughter Ivy, is just like Violet. Actress Alysa Auriemma nicely conveys the mysteriousness of Ivy, a character who initially keeps her love life very private, for a reason that is revealed later. What is that reason? Come see the show.

Jackie DeMaio plays Jean, the fourteen year old girl who smokes pot. Whether during comical scenes, or during far more emotionally intense serious scenes, Jackie DeMaio's mannerisms and delivery make all her lines and reactions seem natural and unscripted, a very impressive performance.

Bill Emerson plays Charlie, a character who goes through a gamut of emotions, every one of them feeling believable, due to the situations in the story, and the way Bill Emerson expresses them.

The story takes some surprising twists and turns, keeping the audience emotionally involved the whole way through. For mature audiences, I highly recommend AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, which is scheduled to continue to run at Little Theatre of Manchester at Cheney Hall through April 29, every Friday and Saturday at 8:00 P.M., and every Sunday at 2:00 P.M. For tickets, please go to http://www.cheneyhall.org/.



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