Robert Schonberger at thought home

On the plane to SF

I haven’t seen that much theater in the last month, well, because I’ve been in the states. Being in New York got me back into it, and along with Adam and Alan I went into see the Tony winning August: Osage County. I wasn’t disappointed, even though I was warned that the play lasts three and a half hours.

August tracks the life of a large, and dysfunctional, extended family centered around Violet, the matriarch of the family. After a crisis, the family gets together at the home in Osage County, Oklahoma in August. Every one of the family members is engaging, and a fully developed character, which I suppose is why the play takes such a long time to be developed.

Everyone in the family has their own problems to deal with, and it’s delightful to feel that family arguments are so normal. The teenage daughter has a drug problem, one of Violets daughters has marital problems, the others have their own strange men to deal with. The rest of the family has their own little quirks, but really, we see Violet and her daughters struggling to keep and maintain a relationship.

The beginning of the play starts off with a terrific monologue from Violets husband, Beverly, as he hires a live in housekeeper. She’s a native American Indian, and the only one through the play who isn’t a part of the family. She lives in the attic, watching over the family in a spiritual way. The question for her becomes why she stays working in the family home with all the mania around her.

There’s a central crisis that brings the family together, which I won’t spoil here, but it pushes Violet over the edge into a cruel personality. How the family reacts is amazing, more so for proving how resilient families can be in a crisis than for anything else. Violet finds herself loved and hated by her entire family, and it’s surprising to see how the play ends.

I guess I have tried to avoid the obvious point to make here, which is that the cast made this play really incredible. Violet is played by Phylicia Rachad, recognizable for being Bill Cosby’s wife in ‘The Cosby Show’, her sister is Elizabeth Ashley. John Cullum plays her husband superbly (and his monologue is worth the ticket price alone) . The housekeeper is Kimberly Guerrero, who I recognize from Northern Exposure & Seinfeld (as the Indian Girlfriend)

The hours pass by quickly, and I barely noticed I was there for more than three hours. A really good show to see, and not one that will leave a Hollywood smile type ending on your face.

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