August, Osage County

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The theater darkens, crowd’s light chatter subsides, and stage lights focus our attention on a magnificent structure. It’s a traditional farmhouse, with all your typical nooks and crannies, so big it juts out into the audience as if forcing us into this structure. The farmhouse is big. Three floors of potential activity kind of big. After over 3 hours of incredibly well acted scenes and biting dialogue I found myself contemplating: is the star of this show actually the set itself?

August, Osage County is a compelling drama about a family in crisis. They’re dealing with problems from the past and issues from the present. The family has a complex history of intertwining story lines where everyone seems to be unravelling, all in this farmhouse. At the beginning of the story, the characters are reunited for the first time in years due to the death of the family patriarch, Beverly Weston. From the moment everyone is together in the same house (and on the same stage) you get a feel for how divided and disconnected this family actually is. This division is expertly paralleled in the different rooms of the house. Each room seemed to represent a different character or couple of characters. For example, the office den the story’s first scene opens in is representative of the character Beverly Weston: cluttered, old, and now dead. When any of the characters were in that room they seemed to reminisce about good times and old memories, much like Beverly did, who was tormented by a certain significant memory, which becomes the main plot revelation in the third act.

The energy of the set could be measured by the house aesthetics. When the lights were on and up, the characters were lively and the dialogue was colorful. Once the lights would dim and characters would scurry off to their sleeping quarters they were confined to their own emotions, setting the mood for their surroundings, or was it the surroundings setting the mood for them? The way the set was “dressed” also...
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