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Review: August: Osage County at Carmel Community Playhouse

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The Carmel Community Players have done a very nice job with this beast of a play. Everyone deserves a strong drink after each marathon performance — it's no easy feat to pace oneself to get through three hours of theater. Everyone except, maybe, Paul Haskin, whose portrayal of alcoholism is the best I’ve ever seen, period. He doesn't slur or stumble or shout; he just sits in a quiet, sadly dignified inebriation. Haskin is gone after the first scene, but his subtle, sweet sadness leaves an impression not to be forgotten. And he's just one brilliant little cog in this great machine of domestic despair.

The homey set is effective — tidy, pleasantly decorated, yet not in the least stylish — though it suffers from the bane of community theater sets: the Wobbly Door Frame. And the venue will need to address its broad, storefront windows. Watching a matinee performance involves a lot of unwanted solar intrusion.

The entire cast gives a worthwhile performance, though with caveats. Accents are inconsistent. Sabrina Duprey does a fine job with the majority of her work, but her first major scene involves getting stoned — and a more nuanced interpretation would have started the show on a better note. And Jean Adams is also on the old side for her role as the leading matriarch, which is troublesome because the rest of the cast is so dead on in look and age. But make no mistake, Adams' performance is truly excellent.

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Also remarkable is Jim Lamonte, who shines as a profoundly common but decent individual. Frequently the grand, flawed characters in the midst of all the drama present in a show overshadow the ones who just want to keep things pleasant, but I'd be remiss tonot single out Lamonte for beautifully and honestly inhabiting a character you could find at any tiny café or feed store. His foil is played with the utmost but truly realistic sleaze by Jeremy Tuterow.

Finally, Holly Hathaway plays opposite Adams as the second female lead and is perfect in it in every way, running the gamut of emotions with truth and passion. The only possible fault to find in her performance was the presence of tears on still lingering on her cheeks after a quick change of scene from one of anguish to one of numbness. Nope, I lied: that isn't a fault.

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