Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Little Theatre of Fall River’s current main stage show is “August Osage County” by Tracy Letts. The show won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize as well as five Tony Awards. It takes place in August, 2007 in a large country home outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. It tells the story of the dysfunctional Weston family who all come together after the disappearance of Beverly Weston, the patriarch. The father opens the show when he is hiring an Indian woman, Johanna to look after his wife. He is a published poet who likes to quote T.S. Eliot. He delivers these ominous words “My wife takes pills and I drink. That is the bargain we have reached” which opens the gates to the adventure and whirlwind journey that the audience takes in this three act play. The couple’s three daughters, Barbara, Ivy and Karen are called back to the family home with husbands and beaus with them. Beverly’s wife, Violet is battling mouth cancer and a growing dependency on pain pills. They return to comfort their mother in her time of need and to try to get to the bottom of their father’s disappearance. Violet’s entire clan returns including her sister, Mattie Faye Aiken, her husband, Charles and their son, Little Charles. As the clan bickers and jokes, old truths come to the surface, jealousies flourish and eventually each one of the characters confront some past hurt and future fear. The moment as each one leaves Violet, is a marvelous moment in this show. It can be likened to Regina’s fate at the end of “The Little Foxes” when her daughter leaves her alone with her ill gotten gain of money. However this one is heard in the 21st Century. Director Roberto Soares casts these roles beautifully and obtains stunning performances from each one of them in this dramedy.
Leading this cast is Linda Monchik as Violet. Violet is an evil mom too end all evil moms, done with black comic moments thrown in the mix. She is excellent in this riveting role. The lesson to learn from these characters is you better be a good person or you’ll end up tasting your own poisonous venom. Her insults and running rough shod over the other characters is splendid to behold. The sordid secrets of the family come tumbling out wonderfully. Other colorful characters include Ron Caisse as Beverly, who delivers a strong monologue to start off the show as well as Violet’s strong willed daughters. Pamela Morgan is a powerhouse as Barbara. She delivers a tour-de-force performance. Her argument scene with her mother, husband, Bill and sisters are show stopping moments. These scenes are mesmerizing with their intensity. Michael McGill does a great job as Bill who tries to help his ex-wife with her problems with her dysfunctional family. Another impressive scene is the battle between Violet and Barbara about who will control the family. Violet needs Barbara’s help in Act 1 but then continually insults her in Act 2. Barbara finally puts her in her place in the dinner from hell sequence. It tells of the cruelty of family life but sometimes some kindness is thrown into the mix.
Erica Vitelli plays the youngest daughter, Ivy who has lived near her parents all her life. Now she wants to run off with Little Charles but there is a dark hidden secret that might explode at any moment. The argument scene between Linda, Pam and Erica is riveting and electrifying. Kathleen Povar plays the sexpot sister, Karen very well. She is engaged to Steve, a handsome cad in sheep’s clothing who tries to seduce her 14 year old niece, Jean. Strong performances are given in these roles by Ray Almeida Jr. as Steve and Shauna Brosky as Jean. Other amazing performers include Jay Burke as Charles who delivers a terrific speech to tell off his wife from insulting their son, the biggest scene stealer is Deb Sadler as Mattie Faye who delivers her many hilarious one liners perfectly and has a hidden secret that rocks the family with high intensity and Jeffrey Griffin as Little Charles who loves Ivy. Rounding out the cast are Nadine Goulet as Johanna and Richard Brosky as the Sheriff. So for a stunning, well written and provocative black comedy, be sure to catch “August Osage County” at Little Theatre of Fall River. It will definitely make you appreciate your own family after witnessing this messed up one. This electrifying show wins a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the night. A word of praise for the stunning three story set designed by Roberto and built by George Sadler and his crew. Run do not walk to the box office before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.
AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY (16 to 19 March)
Little Theatre of Fall River, BCC, 777 Elsbree St, Fall River, MA
1(508)675-1852 or www.littletheatre.net