ENCORE MICHIGAN – CAROLYN HAYES – APRIL 19, 2014
Viciousness shouldn’t be quite so funny, nor frailty quite so compassionate, but family’s weird that way. For the final production of its season, Hilberry Theatre takes on playwright Tracy Letts’s much-lauded and recently film-adapted “August: Osage County,” an epic tragicomedy chronicling resounding disaster and slovenly catharsis in one fractious Oklahoma clan. Fittingly, this story of homecoming features the return of Hilberry alumnus James R. Kuhl as director and a hotly anticipated guest performance by faculty member Lavinia Hart, who join with the graduate student company in pushing the vast ranges of this exhaustive script as far as parameters allow.
At the play’s outset, the only inhabitants of the Weston house are the declining, adversarial Beverly (Alec Barbour) and Violet (Hart), along with their respective all-consuming addictions. When Beverly abruptly hires a live-in housekeeper (Sarah Hawkins Moan) and just as promptly disappears, it serves as the catalyst to bring the couple’s three daughters back to their childhood home, with families – and baggage – in tow.