Skip to content

Untethered’s “August: Osage County” Emotional, Bold

Any family has its ups and downs, issues and secrets. The Westons have that and then some. As literature, “August: Osage County” by Tracy Letts is a masterful work. It is multilayered and multi textured but not all of the layers are things you really want to explore. The story of the Weston sisters and their parents and relatives, who come together during a family crisis, reflects and absorbs the energy of many families; sometimes the mirror reflects humor, sometimes naked raw emotion.

Untethered Theatre made a bold choice in choosing this piece, perfectly aligned with their mission, but not with their sight lines, and eliminating seating for the audience. Perhaps there were other answers to the sprawling set in the cramped, yet intimate space. Could the bunkbed and study have been switched for audience comfort? Or was it a conscious effort to make the audience squirm and turn in their seats? As each layer is ripped away, the audience should become more uncomfortable at the sight of their own wounds.

With those details aside, it is a powerful play, where layer upon layer it is revealed that this family has been poisoned and eaten away by a complicated web of lies, denial, illness and the sweet allure of whiskey, pills, weed or wine.

The highlights of the evening are performances by Dale Hodges (Violet Westin), Christine Dye (Mattie Fay), Bob Allen (Charlie), Carter Bratton (Little Charlie) and Mindy Heithaus. Strength of focus, crafting people rich and full in detail confirm these actors as Cincinnati treasures. Another audience member summed up Dale Hodges’ performance “How she made me detest this complicated woman and then be hopeful for her well-being by the end of the play was lovely to watch.” The others rounding out the cast of 13 (!) fulfill their roles well, in a true ensemble cast. Costumes and lighting were appropriate.

I highly recommend this show. It is not for the easily offended. It is long, but most of it flew by as we were all entranced by this wonderful theatre making brave, bold choices.