Australian theatre fans, rejoice! This year’s Pulitzer Prize winning play August Osage County is heading for Melbourne in 2009.
Melbourne Theatre Company director Simon Phillips, according to US critics, has grabbed the best play on Broadway this year. August is a fabulously written play about the high’s and lows of a very dysfunctional Midwest family.
The play began its life in June 2007 at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre with a sold out premiere run. So impressive were the Steppenwolf cast that every actor literally moved with the play to Broadway for its 2008 four-month (once again sold out) season, a virtually unprecedented occurrence.
Back in March this year in New York, I saw Tracy Lett’s stunning portrayal of the darkest family reunion you’ve ever been a part of. The audience laughed away at the humour created by the plot and characters because they identified with the events on stage before them. Gradually, we realised Letts’ playwriting was so real, what we were seeing was touching a raw nerve inside us all. There was more than an ounce of everyone’s family in August Osage County! The tense verbal arguments, addictions and revelations of long-hidden family secrets were like art imitating our very lives.
Billed as a dark comedy, August Osage County is more accurately a tragicomedy. Hidden beneath the laughter at the surface is a deep and painful sore. At three and a half hours long, this is a modern epic tale of frightening authenticity.
With the Australian production next year to star Robyn Nevin, one can only assume as the family’s matriarch and play’s protagonist, Melbourne audience’s are in for one hell of theatre experience.