Review: 'August Osage County' at the Windsor Jesters

Anne Collin 

  • OnStage Connecticut Critic


August Osage County is billed as a comedy, and when I saw the 2014 movie starring Meryl Streep, I couldn’t have disagreed with that assessment more. The film left me feeling uncomfortable and disturbed due to the heavy subject matter. However, the Windsor Jesters’ current production managed to straddle the line between comedy and drama, resulting in a performance that was hilarious, unsettling, and moving.

As it begins, Beverly Weston, the patriarch of the family, is preparing to hire live-in help for himself and his ailing wife. As he sits and talks with the prospective housekeeper, Johnna (Anna Neild), we learn that Beverly is a teacher, a poet, and an alcoholic. His wife, Violet (Rosemarie Beskind), is battling mouth cancer and is addicted to various pain medications. Bill Mullen’s portrayal of Beverly Weston is brief but impressive. In just one scene, he sets the mood and prepares us for the events that are about to unfold.

When Beverly goes missing, the Weston sisters rally around their unstable mother. Marisa Clement is wonderful as Ivy Weston, the dutiful daughter who never married and constantly has to face her mother’s criticism and advice on how to attract a man. Suzanne Robertson gives a strong performance as Karen Weston, the sister who fled to Florida to pursue her dream of being whisked away and traveling the world with the man of her dreams. Enrico DiGiacomo plays her sleazy and opportunistic serial monogamist fiancé, Steve Heidebrecht. Virginia Wolf commands the stage as Barbara, the Weston sister who is the strongest of the group, yet also the most vulnerable as she faces the possibility of both the loss of her father and the loss of her marriage. Phil Godeck gives an emotionally complex performance as Bill Fordham, Barbara’s estranged husband who accompanies her home for support despite their impending separation. Jacqueline Lasry is lovely as their edgy and impressionable 14-year-old daughter, Jean. Also in attendance are Violet’s busybody sister, Mattie Fae Aiken (Helen Malinka), her husband, Charlie Aiken (Bruce Larsen), and their unassuming and somewhat scatterbrained adult son, Little Charles (Logan Lopez). They also receive visits from Barbara’s high school boyfriend, kindly Sheriff Deon Gilbeau (Mark Proulx).

As an ensemble cast, this group really shines. Every single performer hit his or her mark brilliantly. With that said, I have to give special accolades to Virginia Wolf and Rosemarie Beskind for their performances. Ms. Wolf showed an amazing range of emotion, from exasperation to grief, and from complete command of a situation to utter despair and hopelessness. Similarly, Ms. Beskind convincingly gave Violet both bravado and weakness. Their parting in the closing scene gave me chills.

August Osage County has just two more performances on Friday, June 17th, and Saturday, June 18th, both at 7:30 p.m. at the LP Wilson Community Center, 599 Matianuck Avenue, Windsor, CT. Tickets in advance are $16 for adults and $13 for students and seniors; tickets at the door are $18 for adults and $15 for students and seniors.