Years beforeAugust: Osage Countybecame the name of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, it was the title of a poem by Howard Starks. In it, a family reverently gathers as their matriarch, "thin as one of her old kitchen knives, honed by years and use to fragile sharpness, but too well-tempered to break just yet," takes her last breath.
Starks, an Oklahoma drama coach, was playwright Tracy Letts' mentor. And in one of the strangest forms of literary homage on record, this scathing tragicomedy (which took five Tony Awards, including Best Play and Best Direction) turns that tableau on its ear, asa family scattered to the winds regroups at the old homestead after the disappearance of their alcoholic father.
When they do, the dynamics that so forcefully dispersed this dysfunctional crew to start with quickly reignite. Fangs are bared, claws are sharpened and mud is liberally flung as the Westons take "tough love" to a laughable extreme. Had O'Neill madeLong Day's Journey Into Nighta comedy, it would have probably looked a lot like this.
Eric Woodall directs a cast of local heroes (including Lauren Kennedy, Julie Fishell and Jeffrey West) and top-flight out-of-towners (Mad Menactor Pamela Dunlap and Emmy winner Dorothy Lyman). Performances run through Dec. 9. —ByronWoods