While in NYC last week, PJ and I saw Tracy Letts‘ new play, August: Osage County at the Imperial Theatre. This production transferred from the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago with most of the same cast. It’s a great play, the best one we saw while we were there.

August is ostensibly a family drama, the Weston family to be exact, set in Osage County, Oklahoma. The play begins with a scene in which the Weston patriarch, Beverly, played by Dennis Letts (the playwright’s father), hires a housekeeper, Johnna Monevata, played by Kimberly Guerrero. He and his wife, we learn, need a housekeeper because he drinks and she takes pills. It turns out that his wife, Violet, played by Deanna Dunagan, takes a lot of pills. A lot. Johnna, who is Native American, needs the work, so she accepts the job and the play gets underway.

The cast of August is rather large, and you need a flow chart to keep track of everyone. Conveniently, the playbill provides one (right click on the image and click on “view image” to see a larger version):

August Family Tree

The drama begins in the second scene, in which we soon learn that Beverley has disappeared. The rest of the play traces the effects of this disappearance on the Weston family as each of the now grown children returns home to help their mother cope with the situation. Each of these daughters has problems of her own.