It’s a deft mixture of tragedy and comedy with some seriously laugh-out-loud moments.
That is how Cynthia Pronick would describe the new play, August: Osage County which is now showing at the Langham Theatre.
The play features a family who has grown distant over the years and is brought together again by a funeral, and are forced to confront its past and present.
“All the repressed stuff between characters comes out,” said Pronick, who co-directed the play with her husband Keith Digby after they fell in love with Tracy Lett’s original script a few years ago.
What attracted Pronick to the play was the fact that anyone can relate to the issues the characters face.
“Parents give up so much of who they are as they’re trying to raise a family and they try to get it back and that comes out with this family facing this tragedy,” she said.
“It’s a family in great pain.”
But for people who are familiar with the 2013 Oscar-nominated film starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, expect a different vision of the play to unfold on stage.
According to Pronick, in the film much of the humour was left out, but is something the play embraces.
“With the medium of the camera, it tells you what to focus on and tells you what to feel. Where with [the play] you watch and sometimes it’s like a three-ring circus,” she said.
“There are major things happening on three different parts of the stage at once.”
One of the things that makes this play so different from the film is its strong female lead Violet Weston, a prescription drug-addicted mother, played by Victoria’s Susie Mullen.
“She came from nothing and achieved middle class. The idea that she really sacrificed everything . . . and has nothing to show for it,” said Mullen, adding that the play is so dense that actors often got together on their own time to run lines.
“What drew me to the part was the magnificence of the play and the part. The part is a dream for any actor. You can’t tiptoe around the stage, you have to go out there guns blazing.”
Pronick and Mullen both agreed they’ve had positive reactions from audiences since it debuted last week.
“It’s another glorious monster that we like to do. It’s a very meaty play, you can sit and analyze it forever,” said Pronick.
The play is on at the Langham Theatre until May 9, with shows on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Doors open half an hour earlier.
For more information, visit langhamtheatre.ca or call 250-384-2142.