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Arts & Entertainment
August: Osage County
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
March 28, 2008 
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The laugh lines come fast and furious. The women sit at the dining table—or in the bedroom—confessing and confiding, gossiping about their relatives, giddy and then outraged. No, it’s not Golden Girls Live, but rather it’s Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County—and the man knows how to write a zinger, or mare accurately, zinger after zinger after zinger. And with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company acting the roles as if they’ve owned them for life (which, actually, up to this point, they have), it’s hard not to sit back and let the good times roll. Of course, it’s not all good times in Osage County, given the patriarch’s disappearance, leaving behind a drug-addicted wife and three grown daughters who return to the roost to determine what happened to poor dad—poor dad, hanging in the closet— But wait, that’s another show— This one also has overtones of Lillian Hellman’s Little Foxes, particularly as evinced in the matriarch’s mendacity and cut-throat behavior (a consequence of her addictions, of course…). And there are also parallels to Jerry Springer—both the musical and the t.v. show. There’s barely a “disorder” that isn’t tossed into the mix of familial dysfunctionality—and by the time the issue of incest is revealed—shades of Chinatown (“She’s my sister, he’s my brother”), you might be inclined to call out your own favorite dysfunction–and see what this remarkably adept cast can do with it. There’s little doubt you’ll have fun with this show (for is there anyone in this tell-all society who doesn’t love dirty laundry aired?) but at show’s end, you might be left wondering why you’d spent the evening with such a sorry lot of losers.