August: Osage County

PUBLISHED: 17:08 22 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:26 24 August 2010

by Roxanne Blakelock This epic play about small town America will have you heaving with laughter. Set in Pawhuska, Oklahoma in the stiflingly hot mid-west, Tracy Letts award-winning play is performed flawlessly by Chicago s Steppenwolf

by Roxanne Blakelock

This epic play about small town America will have you heaving with laughter.

Set in Pawhuska, Oklahoma in the stiflingly hot mid-west, Tracy Letts' award-winning play is performed flawlessly by Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre company.

The playwright tackles generational divides in a broken family but points towards universal truths, demonstrating that all human beings, no matter what era, essentially need the same things.

The meaning of family is challenged. We are left to wonder why those who are blood relatives can be so cruel to one another and appear to have nothing in common except the same genes.

The play opens with the 'patriarch', Beverly Weston, drunkenly yet articulately talking to the new housekeeper who he has just hired, a Native American named Johnna.

When Beverly mysteriously disappears, the family is brought together, and one terrible truth after another is revealed.

Letts uses raucous and sometimes outrageous language to bring his bold but vulnerable characters to life.

It is partly this language that adds the much needed humour to offset the tragic situations of the characters.

There are star performances from all the cast but Deanna Dunagan, who plays the 'matriarch' is very impressive as the scarred, drug addicted mother of three daughters.

The play is not short, but it will be one of the best you see this year. Prepare yourself for nearly 3 hours of passionate emotions, hilarious interactions, perversion, shouting, inadvertent incest, death, suicide, jealousy, rejection and the dysfunction of the nuclear family.

August: Osage County runs until January 21 at the Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX. Box office: 020 7452 3000

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