I see a lot of theatre and I enjoy most of it. Every now and then I see something absolutely wonderful and extraordinary. August: Osage openning tomorrow at the National, fits into that category. It's my play of the year!
The Weston family have gathered back in Osage County, Oklahoma on the disappearance of their patriarchal father and are forced to try and support each other through the unfolding tragedy. It's Eugene O'Neill, It's Tennesse Williams, It's The Sopranos.
This is a huge, sweeping play; epic and domestic at once. In common with much great American dramatic literature it deals with the struggle between the controlling power of one generation and the need to reform of the next. As the tectonic plates of family life pull part the skeletons come dancing through the cracks, twisting and turning the plot. There are an awful lot of skeletons in Osage County.
At the centre of this is a great script and a great acting by the Steppenwolf ensemble. Amy Morton who plays Barbara, the eldest daughter, simply gives one of the most towering performances I've ever seen.
The play doesn't have a perceptible state of the nation message, just that wonderful American ability to move the action forward without indulgence or sentiment. The three and a half hours flew by without a dull moment.
The curtain call happened just before eleven to a standing ovation. None of us wanted to go home.
Mark is the Academic Director of the Drama Programmes at St Mary's University in Twickenham. He has worked internationally as a theatre director and educator for the past 15 years, focused mostly on youth, community, and conflict resolution work.
As a lecturer Mark taught at Goldsmiths College, Coventry University and was Head of Performing Arts at Canterbury College prior to joining St Mary’s in 2006.
His Professional directing credits include Henry V (One of US?) and Valhalla for RSC Education; The Wind in the Willows, Jack Cade, The Red, Red Robin for Sevenoaks Playhouse; Tender Souls, The Quality of Mercy and Playhouse Creatures for the Ambassadors Theatre group.
Mark is a director of subVERSE Theatre company for whom has directed fringe premieres of Chief, Dinnertime and OxfamC**t at Theatre 503.
Site specific work includes Purka and Shadow on Icelandic volcanoes and Novocento with students from the University of Genoa.