Photo by Robert J. Saferstein.
It’s only on for the rest of the week, so you’ll have to hurry, but as far as seeing theatre in this town goes, getting tickets to August: Osage County is about the best favour you could do yourself this year. The Pulitzer Prize–winning Steppenwolf production—coming to us by way of sold-out runs in Chicago, Broadway, and the West End—brings Oscar-winner (and Roseanne‘s mom) Estelle Parsons to the Toronto stage, along with a highly talented ensemble cast and a phenomenal script by Tracy Letts. Rumoured to be in talks for big screen development, this is the perfect chance to catch this bold and original work in its purest form.
August tells the story of the Weston family and their extended relatives. Brought together after verbose patriarch Beverly (a very captivating Jon DeVries) mysteriously vanishes, this large, dysfunctional bunch manage to bring out the best and the worst in each other as they alternately fight and confide in each other, revealing a string of shocking family secrets as they go. There’s Violet, played by the inimitable Parsons: a nightmare of a mother who is addicted to prescription pills and verbal abuse. The other focal point of the show is her eldest daughter, Barbara (a ferociously funny Shannon Cochran), who decides that with Dad missing, she will now be running the show. There’s also her somewhat estranged husband, Bill, and their daughter, teenage pothead Jean, Barbara’s younger sisters Ivy and Karen, and Karen’s sleazy fiancé, Steve. They are joined by Violet’s sharp-tongued sister Mattie Fae (an absolutely hilarious Libby George), her husband Charles, their man-child son Little Charles, live-in caregiver Johnna, and Sheriff Deon, an old flame of Barbara’s. Each character in this large cast is beautifully constructed and brilliantly performed. The tone is darkly funny, but also terribly poignant. Expect belly laughs and misty eyes within a few minutes.
The dysfunctional family drama is an American theatre classic, but it’s hard to remember ever seeing it done so well. And it’s really exciting to be in the audience of a new show that is bound to become a classic. Don’t miss it!
August: Osage County runs at the Canon Theatre until Novemeber 15.