Apart from the Academy award nominations of the play’s film version, Repertory Philippines’ ‘August: Osage County’ does not entirely depend on it, rather it took bolder steps by having a well-respected theater veteran and currently the vice-president and artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)—Chris Millado to direct its second offering for the 2014 theater season.
That’s just one.
Millado and Repertory Philippines, combined—are already two great factors that this production would be considered a ‘talk-of-the-town’ and a ‘surefire-hit’ at the same time.
Next is—the way how Millado was successful enough to assemble the finest artists in the Philippine theater industry.
Millado directing Baby Barredo, Repertory’s matriarch is one that theater lovers must go and watch this production on its last weekend shows.
Barredo as Violet Weston, being the central character of this play—didn’t just outdid her performance in ‘Boeing Boeing’, but left a statement in this ongoing production that she still has more to offer. After all, she won’t have catapulted herself as the artistic director of the country’s longest-running, English-speaking theater company for nothing. Her interpretation of a devious mother, addicted to painkillers or any other pill she can pop plus being an alcoholic—are both emotionally charged and hilarious.
Pinky Amador and Liesl Batucan gave back-to-back sterling performances as the sisters—Barbara Fordham and Karen Weston. Tami Monsod as the middle daughter, Ivy was good in some scenes, though. She had her moments, too. I look forward to watching more of Monsod in future stage productions.
Fifth reason to see this ‘sort-of-Telenovela-from-hell’ stage play is Shiela Francisco’s rendition of Mattie Fae Aiken, Violet’s sister. She perfectly fits the bill. I will forever remember her as the jaded sister of Violet. The pains she nurtured inside were too strong that it was too big for the audience to bear.
Other memorable performances that this current production can boast of are: Kenneth Moraleda as Bill Fordham, Barabara’s estranged husband; Richard Cunanan as Charlie Aiken, husband of Mattie Fae; Noel Rayos as ‘Little’ Charlie Aiken, the 37-year-old son of Mattie Fae to Beverly Weston. And the biggest scene-stealer of them all is Angeli Bayani as the Cheyenne Indian woman, the live-in housekeeper, Johanna Monevata.
Bayani being identified in mostly Tagalog-speaking plays and independent flicks didn’t allow herself to-be eaten alive by her co-actors. She delivered an equally strong presence onstage. Both her scenes where she attacked Hans Eckstein’s character—Steve Hiedebrecht, Karen’s fiancé and where she was comforting Mrs. Weston really makes the audience understand the weight of her character.
Actors in the cast—Leo Rialp as Beverly Weston; Thea Gloria as Bill and Barbara’s 14-year-old daughter, Jean Fordham, and Arnel Carrion as Sheriff Deon Gilbeau, Barbara’s high school classmate and boyfriend—contributed well in providing the conflicts and twists of the play.
James Reyes’s costumes worked well with the breathtaking set design of Miguel Faustmann that captured a large country home outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. These are what the audience are for a treat—to feast their eyes on—the immense artistry onstage.
The show is a darkly comedic play by Tracy Letts. It was the recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago on June 28, 2007, and closed on August 26, 2007. Its Broadway debut was at the Imperial Theater on December 4, 2007, and was transferred to the Music Box Theatre on April 29, 2008.