August: Osage County triumphs, yet again, in London

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I’m on my regular Thanksgiving sojourn in Minneapolis this week, but I couldn’t help but take note of the to-be-expected phenomenal reviews that our very own Steppenwolf Theater‘s London transfer of August:  Osage County received after opening on Wednesday night at the National Theater.  Deanna Dunagan, Amy Morton, Rondi Reed, Ian Barford, Jeff Perry, Sally Murphy, Maryann Mayberry, Kimberly Guerrero, and Troy West all reprise the roles they created here in Chicago and took to Broadway; Steppenwolf ensemble member Gary Cole (recently of Desperate Housewives), Broadway understudy Molly Ranson, and newbies Chelcie Ross and Paul Vincent O’Connor (taking over from original Chicago and Broadway cast member Francis Guinan, who had stayed in Chicago to be part of the soon-to-open The Seafarer on the Steppenwolf main stage) join them.  Our very own Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune was first on the scene, saying August “kicks London in the gut” and finally, after three reviews, calls Amy Morton’s shattering performance as the eldest daughter Barbara “one of the great theatrical performances of the modern era”.  The London critics were a little bit more reserved than that, but the usually crotchety Guardian drama critic Michael Billington admiringly compares Tracy Letts to British dramatic icon Alan Ayckbourn in his four-star review, singles out the performances of Dunagan, Morton, Perry, and Reed, and says the whole play is full of “buccaneering vigor”.  Although Charles Spencer at the Telegraph says he isn’t “persuaded that this is the the first indisputably great American play of the 21st century”, he gives it four stars and calls the production “consistently gripping, moving and often wildly funny”.  Benedict Nightingale, at the Times, rightfully gushes at the ensemble acting, and says the actors give performances that are so “so robust yet so punctilious they’d have had Stanislavsky dancing round Red Square.”  OK, so the Brits liked the play a lot.  It’s so wonderful to see the continuous triumph of this proudly Chicago-made play in the great, discerning, been-there-seen-that theatrical capitals of the world, New York and London, but …. when do we see August again at home, in this production, with this cast?

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