Friday, 17 January 2014
August: Osage County
I saw the original Chicago Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of 'August: Osage County' when it was brought to Australia, cast and all, by the Sydney Theatre Company a few years back. It was one of the most entertaining nights I have spent in the theatre, the play being a powerful mix of drama, intrigue, surprise and comedy. An understandable winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
Ever since I have waited eagerly for the film version especially since its impressive casting was announced pre-production.
The story is set in Osage County in Oklahoma one very hot August. A family has gathered on the news that its patriarch has disappeared and even before his death is discovered relationship wounds have opened and are festering.
This is a wonderful work for an ensemble and the film cast, by and large, let rip with outstanding performances. Meryl Streep is in top form, with a scenery chewing turn and whilst I enjoyed watching her my ongoing reservation about her acting remains. Technically Ms Streep is superb but what you get is always 'a performance'. You rarely feel as though Ms Streep is the character you are watching. On the other hand, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson and, especially, Margo Martindale are all wonderfully natural in their roles.
Nearly an hour has been cut from the stage production but what remains is still powerful.