BWW Review: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at Theatre Tallahassee
Theatre Tallahassee's production of August: Osage County has what every dysfunctional family needs: multiple intermissions.
Without breaks, the intensity of family life fighting a panoply of issues would break even the most even-keeled, rational human being alive.
The home of Bev and Violet Weston is marked by rustic, primitive wood, with the shades of an Oklahoma sun always beckoning with a warm glow. The sun's warmth is helpful, because the atmosphere in the Weston home rangers from tepid to frigid (except when it heats up .... it's complicated).
Bev Weston (Shawn McCauley) seems resigned to his marriage's status quo as he interviews Johnna Monevata (Andie Gilroy), a Native American young woman, to be a helper around the house. Johnna seems compliant and eager to have a role in the home.
When Bev's absence from the house grows unnaturally long, family members begin arriving. As each piece of the family jigsaw puzzle seeks its fit back in a frame that has changed, the audience sees intensely personal glimpses of each individual as the relationships morph from what they appear likely to be from the outside looking in, revealing secrets, anxieties, power hunger and rebelliousness.
Charlie Aiken (Robert Stuart) and Mattie Fae Aiken (Tiffany Underwood) have a marriage that is constantly seeking equilibrium but often veering into opposite poles. Reasonable Charlie tries to keep a semblance of civility while Mattie Fae holds her most personal emotional treasures tight.
Ivy Weston (Rachael Kage) can't make her mother happy. The audience wants Violet to just leave her alone while also wanting to pry into her secrets. It is the Ivy/Violet relationship that seems among the most tightly strung of the family members.
When the Fordham family (Barbara (Erika Stone), Bill (Derek Nieves) and Jean (Aliya Kraar) arrives, another layer of drama is spread over the family dynamics cake. It's not "icing" on the cake, though. More like an entire new and different cheesecake plopped on top of some fluffy angel food. This family has its challenges. Kraar excels as Jean, in whom both parents' angst seems to find a settling place.
Karen Weston (Colleen McClure) and Steve Heidebrecht (Kenny Catullo) may have their eyes more on their wedding and wherever else they may wander (Steve's eyes), but their presence somehow provides a counterpoint to everyone else.
"Little" Charles Aiken (Melbin Borrero III) may have overslept for pivotal parts of the plot but by the time his role in everyone's lives gets fully revealed, the audience is fully awake.
Violet won't back down from much of anything. Her sister Mattie Fae isn't reticent either. Nor are the three Weston daughters. The audience shouldn't discount Johnna, though. She's more than a cook, more than a housekeeper.
Ryan Burke also appears as Sheriff Deon Gilbeau.
Every dysfunctional family needs a break or two, for sure. This particular family reminds the audience why secrets, even when kept quiet, will make a woman want to yell, run, or escape.
The show is directed by Jimmy Kontos.
Photo credit: Theatre Tallahassee