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REVIEW: August: Osage County

by Steve Desroches

Since David Drake took the helm as artistic director of the Provincetown Theater, the East End performing arts space has sparkled. He and the board of directors are a team well on their way to creating a real theatrical force as a regional theater attracting attention beyond the Cape with a distinct vision and voice. The current production of August: Osage County is marvelous example. It’s truly a special production.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play in 2008, the script by Tracy Letts provides a superb jungle gym on which to swing in this inky-black comedy about a family reuniting after the suicide of the alcoholic patriarch as the pill-popping matriarch delivers punches and hugs to her assembled loved ones. The superb set designed by Ellen Rousseau is the first introduction to the three-ring dysfunctional family circus about to take place, as it allows the cast to maneuver an old, sweltering Oklahoma home as if the audience is peering into a doll house. But Barbie’s Dreamhouse this is not. The claustrophobia of the family dynamic is further entombed by not so much a theater in the round experience, but theater on the runway, as seating is set on each side with the stage running up the middle. It’s a device that works wonders from beginning to end.

The Cape Cod premiere of this new American classic is perfectly cast, another talent of Drake’s. The performances he pulls out of these actors makes it impossible to differentiate levels of experience, as each cast member is given ample room to explore their individual aptitude and then a leg up from the ensemble to thrust themselves even higher. Jennifer Cabral and Ian Leahy give breathtaking performances as Mattie Fae and Charlie, giving their complex characters grit and vulnerability and providing both comic relief and the pull of magnetic North with the pain of shame and secrets they harbor.

Laura Cappello, Vanessa Rose, and Anne Stott, as the three Weston sisters, give performances that would make Chekhov weep and chuckle. As a trio, the actors give a firm connective tissue to their sisterly bonds, establishing a true DNA of trauma, but one that has evolved in distinctive ways to adapt and more importantly survive. Stott is always a joy to watch act, but her performance as Barbara, the heir apparent to this loving mess of a family, is her best to date, managing to gracefully braid rage, grief, and hurt as her character is the knot in a tug of war with every member of the family pulling in a different direction. Jaris Hanson as the drug-addled mommy dearest Violet and Celia Cota as young pot-smoking Jean both give anchoring performances full of hope and regret, which is jarring as over 50 years separates their characters who share the same perils of mistaking cynicism for strength. The supporting cast of Colin Delaney, Tim Famulare, Dave LaFrance, Sandra Paredes, Adam Peck, and Nathaniel Hall Taylor all grab a hold of a rope to raise the circus tent over this story and never let go, even when it erupts into flames, in this must see production at a theater of which to be very proud.

August: Osage County runs at the Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St., Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. until May 26. Tickets ($30) are available at the box office and online. For more information call 508.487.7487 or visit

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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