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August: Osage County, Tracy Letts

Theatre Communication Group, September 26, 2008

Houses shelter families from inclement weather but cannot protect members inside from the tempest of one another. Peer into a window. Every home quarters precipitous dysfunction, whether the address lines a paved suburban street or plots an isolated dot on rural acreage. With the jumble of drama running over stairs, slamming behind closed doors and distressing walls that struggle to contain the pressure of the secrets bearing against them, residences shudder the world around, ready to blow.

Beverly Weston: Violet. My wife. She takes pills, sometimes a great many. And they affect … among other things, her equilibrium. Fortunately, the pills she takes eliminate her need for equilibrium.

Expert engineering alone does not explain what secures the roofs over our heads. A more robust influence holds domestic strife in balance: Stability often falls onto the will of a single individual in the household, presenting quite the dilemma when that reinforcement itself comes undone.

Violet Weston: I, everybody listen … I am a drug addict. I am addicted to drugs, pills, ’specilly downers. Y’see these little blue babies? These are my best fucking friends and they never let me down. Try to get ’em away from me and I’ll eat you alive.

Cracks tear at the seams. Burgeoning fissures undoubtedly pass from superficial corners to the souls in their midst. Once detected, the strength of every bond succumbs to sober questioning.

Ivy Weston: I can’t perpetuate these myths of family or sisterhood anymore. We’re all just people, some of us accidentally connected by genetics, a random selection of cells. Nothing more.

Revealed, the durability of the family unit convulses with the overhead beams and floorboards meant to support and harbor inhabitants. Belief in refuge toppled, everything and everyone is left vulnerable—subjected to the elements. Rain soaks its way through even the smallest crevasse, damaging objects and spirit without discretion.

Barbara (Weston) Fordham: Thank God we can’t tell the future. We’d never get out of bed.

Safety is the illusion that keeps us in close proximity, and side by side, rooms buckle. Ceilings collapse. In a matter of time, little shall remain whole on concrete foundations. Fathers, mothers and children will find themselves in heaps of wreckage—together—in the homes where they grew apart.

Karen Weston: Just like all the rest of us, down here in the muck. I’m no angel myself. I’ve done some things I’m not proud of. Things you’ll never know about. Know what? I may even have to do some things I’m not proud of again. ’Cause sometimes life puts you in a corner that way. And I am a human being, after all.