Review: August: Osage County

“Cheers to this election for bringing us closer together.”

“Cheers to this election for bringing us closer together.”

Photo courtesy of Charr Crail

7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday: 7 p.m. Wednesday; $23-$40; Capital Stage, 2215 J Street; (916) 995-5464; Through November 20.
Rated 5.0

It’s a pretty sure bet that after meeting Beverly and Violet Weston and their extended clan in August: Osage County, you’ll be thankful and look upon your own family a little more kindly. This Oklahoma clan has more than its share of alcoholics, drug addicts, adulterers and deviants.

How many difficulties can a family suffer without disintegrating? Well, probably not this many.

Capital Stage’s masterful production of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama will overwhelm emotionally and leave viewers weak from laughter. It’s the funniest drama about the dissolution of a family one is likely to see.

Beverly (Rich Hebert) is an alcoholic former college professor and poet; Violet (Janis Stevens) is his vicious drug-addled wife, suffering (appropriately, considering her acid tongue) from mouth cancer, She’s also hooked on downers. “My wife takes pills and I drink. That’s the bargain we’ve struck,” Beverly confesses not long before he mysteriously (or maybe not) goes missing.

It’s then the family comes together—daughters Barbara (Amy Resnick), Ivy (Taylor Burris) and Karen (Dena Martinez); and Violet’s sister Mattie Fay Aiken (Jamie Jones), with spouses and others—to await his return, dead or alive. In the interim, all sorts of family secrets and lies are exposed, often to devastating effect.

Benjamin T. Ismail flawlessly directs a talented ensemble cast, featuring Stevens, Jones and Resnick in virtuoso high-powered emotional performances.