August: Osage County is Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which debuted in 2007. It is typically billed as a dark comedy or tragicomedy. It deals with the reunion of a family in rural Oklahoma after the death of its patriarch. During this time, skeletons come out of closets, and drama ensues.
The play features 13 characters, and most of them get a substantial amount of attention from the author. Balancing all these characters is something Letts does particularly well, and this is especially highlighted when there are two and three conversations going on simultaneously.
Very few of these characters are the least bit sympathetic. Most of them spend most of their time hashing out their problems in nasty, unpleasant ways. Letts seems to be under the impression that the way to go here is to create as many irreconcilable issues as he can and then not resolve any of them. Some people may think that makes good drama; others will rightly ask, “so what?” and “what’s the point?”.
August: Osage County certainly has its moments, but it’s never particularly innovative or impressive. I, for one, am hard-pressed to understand just what about the play was Pulitzer-worthy.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT