I had been wanting to check out August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. Every review I've read of it had nothing bad to say. The bookstore in my hometown didn't stock it until a week or two ago when it was crowned with the Pulitzer. I'm not sure how I feel abotu after having read it once and watched some clips of a performance online. Has anyone seen it? Thoughts?
I just finished reading the play (I don't live anywhere close to where it is currently playing) and it was amazing. Like I can't even find the words for it. I just got it so hard, right in the heart of hearts, and it just killed, but I loved every moment of it. The layering of the events, the characters, oh God, I just wish I could see it myself.
So I would say go see it. It's a thing of beauty. I am obsessed.
I've seen it, and I wish I had something clever to say about it! I enjoyed the play immensely, and so did other playwright friends who saw it. I don't think Letts did anything particularly innovative or new, but I think he did something old very, very well.
If nothing else, it makes you appreciate how your own family is crazy, but not that crazy.
Incredible piece of theatre. The three hours breezed by, and I couldn't believe it was finished. However, it did, at times, slip into sit-com mode. I don't think it is the same level of writing of an Arthur Miller; who's "All My Sons" was playing across the street. The theme of the toxic matriarch, and those affected by her, has been done before, but Tracy Letts does a great job of freshening it up and giving it his own unique spin. The acting was phenomenal, too, which is something I can't say for Horton Foote's drama "Dividing the Estate," which I saw the same day. I should have seen the plays in reverse order, because after "August: Osage County" most plays would be somewhat of a let down, such is the intensity of the subject matter.
I totally agree. I bought the play right after it won the Tony...had to see what all the fuss was about. It's amazing. The playwright has created such fascinating and in-depth characters...an actor's dream. I plan to see it if it all possible.
I went to see the first night of previews at the National on Monday.
The English papers heralded this play as the second coming so despite enthusiastic reviews from my friends in NY I was beginning to suspect that it could never live up to the hype.
After the first act, I thought it hadn't lived up to it. Not that it's not good - I did find it enchanting from the beginning, it's just that it wasn't all that. But it was strong: listening to the dialogue reminded me of going to see Pulp Fiction in 1995 - there was something so true in the way the people spoke that was mesmerizing and refreshing. I hadn't heard such true voices for a while (and two weeks before I saw Ivanov so there you go). Especially the women's voices. Letts can totally write women which, you know, is more than you can say for Stoppard or Mamet.
After the second act, I thought it had lived up to the hype. It is just a great, great night at the theatre. The climax of the second act is lunch after the funeral for the patriarch where the sadistic matriarch goes for her three daughters' jugulars. I have lived in England for seven years and have never seen a London audience so worked up, so involved, hands clutching hair, tutting, gasping, even looking at their fellow audience members as if to say "she did not just say that!". Spontaneous eye-widening, squirming, wincing, sighing - no one fakes that shit. In London they actually try to suppress it. So when it was rampant all around me, I knew they were on to something.
This play does not break any new ground, but the story it tells is fantastically interesting and the characters are true and fresh. It is that alchemy that makes it terrific.
I thought bitterly watching it that there is no way that an unknown playwright would ever, ever have a chance in hell of getting something like that on stage - because it didn't have two actors and two boxes. It had fresh flowers, fried catfish, bottles of wine, platters of crudite, thirteen actors, a three story house for a set - it was rich in a way that new playwrights are never ever allowed to be rich. And the ending was so very true, and perfect.
Note that I am 39 weeks pregnant and uncomfortable doing everything but did not notice the tiny chairs or three and half hour running time in the slightest.
Most of the cast was from the original Steppenwolf cast and the playwright is a member of Steppenwolf - I am beginning to think that is where you have to be to write a great play - in a theatre community, with some infrastructure and support, known, writing for yourself and your community, not writing two actors and two boxes plays for some unknown artistic director you e-mail.