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August: Osage County

Eileen Dugan and Sheila McCarthy in "August: Osage County."

When August: Osage County charged onto the scene in 2007, it was hailed as the most thrilling new American play Broadway had seen for years. Written by Tracey Letts, the production introduced New York to unfamiliar and super-talented actors from Chicago in a turbo-charged tale of family dysfunction that was equal parts Eugene O’Neill, Sam Shepard, and cheesy television mini-series. Audiences loved it. It won the Pulitzer Prize. It toured.

The play opens this week at the Kavinoky Theatre, where it’s being touted with the line, “We put the ‘fun’ in family ‘dysfunction.’” It’s a bold choice for the Kavinoky, where family dysfunction is more typically staged in A. R. Gurney dining rooms or in Noel Coward country homes. Here, by contrast, we meet the mean-spirited, pill-popping, and conniving Violet Weston, matriarch of an Oklahoma clan, whose husband has mysteriously disappeared. At least his disappearance is a mystery to the three daughters who rush home to comfort Mom during what is ostensibly her darkest hour.

The Kavinoky has populated this hilariously treacherous terrain with an undeniably fun crew of Buffalo actors: Saul Elkin, Sheila McCarthy, Eileen Dugan, Tim Newell, Norman Sham, Kelli Bocock-Natale, Kristen Tripp-Kelley, Brian Riggs, Kelly Meg Brennan, Steve Jakiel, Steve Copps, Kay Kerimian, and Zoe Appler. The production continues through May 19. Prepare to cringe! See “On the Boards” for details.