The much-anticipated transfer of Chicago-based company Steppenwolf’s August: Osage County bowed at the NT Lyttelton last night (26 November 2008, previews from 21 November), with most of the award-winning Broadway cast reprising their roles for the eight-week run.

Having won five Tony Awards and already been heralded by some critics as the first great American play of the 21st century, there was no shortage of expectation in the run up to last night’s London debut. But with a raft of good reviews adorning this morning’s papers (See Today’s Review Round-Up), the hype appears to have been justified.

The play, by Steppenwolf member Tracy Letts, exposes the dark side of the middle American family. When the Westons unexpectedly reunite after dad disappears, their Oklahoman homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets, all overseen by the pill-popping and scathingly acidic matriarch Violet.

TO SCROLL THROUGH ALL OF THE AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY’s 1st NIGHT PHOTOS,
JUST CLICK ON THE "NEXT >" LINKS BELOW THE FOLLOWING FRAME.
PHOTOS BY DAN WOOLLER FOR WHATSONSTAGE.COM.

Original ensemble members accompanying the London transfer are: Deanna Dunagan, Rondi Reed (who both won individual Tonys for their performances on Broadway) Ian Barford, Kimberley Guerrero, Mariann Mayberry, Michael McGuire, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Jeff Perry, Molly Ranson and Troy West. They’re joined by fellow Americans and new company members Paul Vincent O’Connor and Chelcie Ross.

August: Osage County is directed by Anna D Shapiro and designed by Todd Rosenthal, both of whom also won Tony Awards for their work on the production. Author Tracy Letts’ other credits include Bug and Killer Joe, both of which were seen at London’s Bush Theatre in the 1990s.

- By Theo Bosanquet