August: Osage County won playwright Tracy Letts the Pulitzer Prize in 2008 for the no-holds-barred depiction of a tantrum-prone family and seething resentments, liberally inhabited by wry humour. Set during a sizzling Oklahoma summer, Violet, matriarch of the Weston family, erratically presides over a kind of family reunion after her husband goes missing. She has cancer and is self-medicating for other ills as well. Her sister, her daughters and their partners converge on the family home where life-long intergenerational skirmishes continue.
Director Louise Fischer notes that mounting August: Osage County (a play she put on her bucket list when she saw it in 2010) at the New Theatre presented specific challenges, including how to present a three-storey set on its stage.
“When I read the play again, I knew we had to do it. Because it’s not a play about a set – it’s so much bigger than that,” Fischer says.
“It’s about characters that simmer and leap off the page, about the formidable inner landscape of a family disintegrating on all sides. And it’s about a script infused throughout with the most wonderfully wicked humour. You find yourself laughing when you know you shouldn’t and that’s kind of intoxicating. Which is somewhat ironic, when directing a play about addiction!”
Until Jul 7. New Theatre, 542 King St, Newtown. $20-$35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.newtheatre.org.au
By Olga Azar