What's great about the play, though, is that even at its ugliest, even in that third hour and beyond, it's some of the funniest writing ever done for the American stage. Letts doesn't let his characters whine on for too long without throwing in a line like "Don't get all Carson McCuller's on me," or, my favorite, "Eat the fish, bitch!" (The build-up to it is what makes it memorable.)

This play, as one character says of Beverly's disappearance, is fraught. There's enough in it for six plays. What happens in each room of that set could be a series of stand-alone one-acts.

Strong performances like the ones at WaterTower are crafted by great directing (Moreno always brings out the best in his actors) and by an ensemble of pros who work together to make each other great. In this production, the weight of the play is borne by Sherry Jo Ward as Barbara. Her extraordinary range as an actress is apparent as she rages, melts, explodes and implodes, sometimes in the space of a few inhales and exhales. Ward, tall and broad-shouldered, like a younger Allison Janney, can reach the back row vocally and physically. But her eyes and face react as if she's on film. Tiny things happen. Real things. Phenomenal.

Chris Hury, Tom Lenaghen, Nancy Sherrard and Pam Dougherty let the fists and fury fly in WaterTower's August: Osage County.
Mark Oristano
Chris Hury, Tom Lenaghen, Nancy Sherrard and Pam Dougherty let the fists and fury fly in WaterTower's August: Osage County.

Details

August: Osage County continues through April 22 at WaterTower Theatre, Addison Theatre Centre. Call 972-450-6232.

August: Osage County takes its actors and its audience on an unforgettable journey. With the WaterTower production, you couldn't be in better company.

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