REVIEW: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
at Vintage Theatre
by Michael Mulhern
Vintage Theatre presents the award-winning AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY now through October 15th. At the Westons’ Oklahoma farmhouse, the patriarch, Beverly, goes missing. The family gathers together at The Farmhouse hoping for good news, but after five days, his body is found in a lake, a presumed suicide. The play takes us through the family’s pain, not just over Beverly’s death, but of living in a very dysfunctional family for many years. Violet, the drug-addicted, brain-addled matriarch, her three daughters, and their families try, unsuccessfully, to work out their problems from the time they arrive hoping to find Beverly, through his funeral, and on into the next day.
This show is the definition of heartbreaking and while its run time is three hours long, through this amazing ensemble’s intriguing performances, superb script, and fluid staging you never check your watch. I have seen almost all of the members of this talented ensemble onstage in productions past for several years and have grown to respect them all for the art of their craft; but nothing compared to what I witnessed this evening. Each actor really pushed themselves in this show and elevated their craft to another level and I give a standing ovation to each and every one of them.
If there was a master class for addiction behavior then Deb Persoff’s stunning performance as Violet Weston would the one to watch. There was so many layers to this delicious role and Ms. Persoff’s portrayal was mesmerizing. She could turn from a sweet and fragile elderly lady to menacing mother whose words could cut like a knife. She succeeds in stabbing each of her loved ones until there is no one left and her final lonely cries sent a chill down my spine. Haley Johnson showed such incredible range as Barbara Fordham from fragile and bitter ex to powerful matriarch, and from defeated daughter to hopeful independence. There is a reason I seek out this amazing actress and she proved her skills once again in this complex role. Kelly Uhlenhopp showed bitterness and strength in the role of sister, Ivy Weston. You see such growth in this character throughout the play, and this is probably one of the best roles I have ever had the pleasure of seeing Kelly in. Karen Weston was the poster child of denial and Lauren Bahlman truly captured the essence of this sister. Her constant need to show up her sisters was hilarious at times and the chemistry was delightful among all the sisters.
I thoroughly enjoyed Marc Stith as Bill Fordham. It was his internal conflict gave his external performance such depth. Kaitlin Weinstein brought a youthful appeal to daughter Jean Fordham and delighted to watch. Andrew Uhlenhopp is comically creepy (don’t think i have used that term before) as Karen’s charming fiancee, Steve Heidebrecht His mannerisms really made his character come alive and stole the scene several times. Darcy Kennedy and John Ashton as Charlie and Mattie Fae Aiken offered some welcomed comic relief in this dramatic show and they complimented each other quite well. Brandon Palmer was excellent as “Little” Charlie Aiken and really captured the idiosyncrasies that made up this fascinating character without overdoing it. Roger Hudson may behave only had one scene as the stoic and detached patriarch, Beverly Weston; but it was a powerful one. Johnna Monevata (wonderfully played by Emily Gerhard) was the only level headed and grounded member in the household and brought some stability to this turbulent house. Stephen Krusoe brought a little tenderness to the show in the role of Sheriff Deon Gilbeau and melted Barbara’s heart and ours.
Bernie Cadell receives high praises for his thoughtful directing process and perfect casting of this show. I truly appreciate how he pushed each actor really explore their characters in order to push these complex characters to the brink without overacting. I also applaud hun for his fluid and seamless transitions from scene to scene. In a three-hour show there could be moments of lagging or slowing down, but thanks to Bernie’s meticulous staging, the show never lost momentum. Job very well done! Kortney Hanson did such a superb job with his organic and expansive set design giving us layers and levels in the Weston home. I felt like I was a bird in a wire in front on the house watching the drama unfold.
Another stellar production from Vintage Theatre with an outstanding ensemble and superior acting that you have to witness for yourself! Vintage Theatre’s AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is transfixing audiences now through October 15th. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Vintage Theatre is located at 1468 Dayton Street in Aurora, CO. Tickets are available online at www.vintagetheatre.com or by calling 303-856-7830.
PHOTO CREDIT: RDG Photography