Monday, 24 November 2008

August: Osage County

I see a lot of theatre and I enjoy most of it. Every now and then I see something absolutely wonderful and extraordinary. August: Osage openning tomorrow at the National, fits into that category. It's my play of the year!

The Weston family have gathered back in Osage County, Oklahoma on the disappearance of their patriarchal father and are forced to try and support each other through the unfolding tragedy. It's Eugene O'Neill, It's Tennesse Williams, It's The Sopranos.

This is a huge, sweeping play; epic and domestic at once. In common with much great American dramatic literature it deals with the struggle between the controlling power of one generation and the need to reform of the next. As the tectonic plates of family life pull part the skeletons come dancing through the cracks, twisting and turning the plot. There are an awful lot of skeletons in Osage County.

At the centre of this is a great script and a great acting by the Steppenwolf ensemble. Amy Morton who plays Barbara, the eldest daughter, simply gives one of the most towering performances I've ever seen.

The play doesn't have a perceptible state of the nation message, just that wonderful American ability to move the action forward without indulgence or sentiment. The three and a half hours flew by without a dull moment.

The curtain call happened just before eleven to a standing ovation. None of us wanted to go home.

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