“More than three blissful hours.” That’s the phrase that leaps out at you from the December ’07 New York Times review of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County. There’s a hell of a lot of rave-y adjectives like “harrowing,” “hilarious” and “mesmerizing” in there as well, and critic Charles Isherwood dithers for a graf or so over whether it’s “the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years” before deciding that yeah, it is. (Other critics, to say nothing of Tony voters and the Pulitzer committee, agreed.) Those three blissful hours, though, are enough to give pause to potential audience members. This was certainly the case for a friend—a smart, well-read D.C. theatergoer who had just canceled her long-standing season tickets at three different companies. Her reason? Too many shows with butt-numbing running times. “If it can’t be done in two hours or less,” she said, “I’m just not gonna go see it anymore.” We argued. Me: Blah blah arbitrary metric blah blah ridiculous blah blah what about Angels in America? She: Blah blah self-indulgent blah blah I’m busy blah blah Kushner needs an editor. We agreed to disagree (about the extent to which she was wrong, which was a tremendous lot), but I’ll be dragging her about-to-be-numbed ass to the KenCen in November for this sprawling, nearly 200-minute tale of an extended Midwestern family and the coldly calculating matriarch who rules with an iron fist and a literally cancerous tongue.
The play runs Nov. 24 to Dec. 20 at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $25-$80. (202) 467-4600.