The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, is producing Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning August: Osage County through October 30 on its F. Otto Haas stage.
The production gives a whole new meaning to the term dysfunctional. If you can think of a dysfunctional member of your family or of a family you know, multiply the ramifications of that one person’s actions by 12 (there are twelve members in this extended family) and then multiply that magnitude yet again at least tenfold. Such would be the chaos and pathos you would be facing if your family were representative of the one portrayed on stage. Every character has his or her own set of problems. Even on the heels of the patriarch’s funeral, laugh lines abound at the sheer farcical nature of the insincerity that is obvious as family members lie and try to hide things from each other (or not, as in the case of Violet, the mother who,when strung out on drugs, develops a mouth with a mind of its own.)
There is no weak link in this very strong ensemble cast. Whether the actors are well seasoned with much experience to their credit or making their professional theatre debut, all work well with the fine script Tracy Letts has provided. The audience is treated to an unfolding of the characters as each one is fleshed out over the course of the three acts. Each act is stronger than the preceding one; there is more humor; the characters become more fully developed; and more attention is paid to the details on the stage.
The set is outstanding. Kudos must go to Dan Conway for designing a three story, 6 room house with two staircases and an additional area outside the house which is used for conversations between family members. Exits are carefully executed.. Special mention must also be given to Thom Weaver for his excellent work in lighting design. Lighting is an integral part of this production as lights off signal the end of a scene and when the lights come back on, they are usually lit in another area of the house or on the sidewalk outside highlighting a different set of characters. You may laugh. You may cry. Your jaw may drop at the incredulity of it all…. but what you may not do is miss this show! For tickets and further information, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org.