August: Osage County is a complex and female-centred, dysfunctional family drama
- Lorna Irvine
- 4 September 2017
Andrew Panton's perceptive new adaptation marks the 10th anniversary of the play's first production
Andrew Panton's first production as Dundee Rep Theatre's Artistic Director brings Southern fried cliches to their knees. His perceptive direction, focused on the fallout from a missing patriarch hits all of its targets. The creaking, rotating skeletal frame of the pine Oklahoma homestead, created by Alex Lowde, functions as a brilliant visual metaphor for a family thrown off balance.
Drug addicted matriarch Violet Weston (Ann Louise Ross) has been left to pick up the pieces, and rules over her returning family members with claw like hands. Ross is superb, sympathetic in spite of her many flaws and uncensored words.
There's strong support, too, from Barrie Hunter as Violet's sensitive, troubled brother-in-law Charlie, and Irene MacDougall as his embittered wife Mattie. But the production belongs to the trio of sisters, dealing with their father's absence: Emily Winter as neurotic Barbara, Angela Darcy's deluded, vulnerable Karen and headstrong, rebellious Ivy (Beth Marshall).
Tracy Letts' writing may bear comparison with the Bourbon-soaked resentment of Tennessee Williams, but it really seems to have more in common with the blunt instruments hurled as missiles by Raymond Carver. Brutal, hilarious and heart-rending, it's a compelling parable about the American Dream, now curdled.
Dundee Rep Theatre, 29 Aug--16 Sep, 7pm, £12--£25.