August: Osage County at the Kennedy Center

Be honest. You think your family is pretty dysfunctional. Amusing, if not outright ridiculous. My family is - I think some of it comes from having a large family. The Weston family, around which Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play revolves, blows all those insane families out of the water. When patriarch Beverly Weston (Jon DeVries) goes missing, his wife, Violet (Estelle Parsons) gathers her family around her. The first to arrive is her sister, Mattie Fae (Libby George) and her husband Charlie (Paul Vincent O'Connor). Next is one of her daughters Ivy (Angelica Torn), followed a couple of days later by Barbara (Shannon Cochran), another daughter, her husband Bill (Jeff Still) and her daughter Jean (Emily Kinney). Finally, Karen (Amy Warren) shows up with her fiance, Steve (Laurence Lau). Also in the house is Johnna Montevata (DeLanna Studi), the Cheyenne housekeeper. The final member of the ensemble is Marcus Nelson, who plays Sherriff Deon Gilbeau.

As I said, this family takes the dysfunctional cake. There are several jaw-droppers throughout the play, none of which am I going to tell you here. I will tell you that there are a couple of fights, some dish-breaking, and plenty of smoking and swearing. The three hours flew by. I sat in the second balcony, which was just about the best place to see this show. The set is quite big (a 3-story house) and plenty takes place on those other levels, so being farther back and elevated gives you the best point of view. Along with the lovely set by Todd Rosenthal, the lighting was breathtaking. Ann G. Wrightson did a beautiful job with a large and intricate set. David Singer composed original music for the show, which was played between scenes, and it was perfect for the show. Really, the only weak point of the show were the fight scenes. They were slow and obviously staged. I know that sounds weird, but fights have to look real. These didn't. Otherwise, this production was just about as good as the one I saw last year in New York City.

3.5 stars

August: Osage County
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F St NW
Through December 20


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