As reviews of the much anticipated and immensely star studded adaptation of August: Osage County trickle in, the consensus seems to be that although the cast is immensely powerful, the screen adaptation of Tracy Lett's amazing, award winning play loses something in the transition from stage to screen. Which is fair, even novice play writers know that the dialogic differences between stage screen are vast, which is often why musicals adapted for screen can come off saccharine, and dramas can appear overly tense. The key differences between theater, where the viewer's eye and attention can be anywhere in the scene at any time, versus screen, where we are directed very specifically to the points that are deemed most important, often leaves a chasm, one that can be difficult for adaptations to fill, even when they are handled skillfully.
However, what is without question is the magnificence of the August: Osage County cast. The movie is like the A-list on steroids, produced by George Clooney, and starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Juliette Lewis, Dermor Mulroney and Margo Martindale, just to name a few. With such a breadth of talent, all working together, it's hard to imagine a project they couldn't make special, especially in regards to play adaptations. After all, award-winning plays are often immensely treasured in literary and theatrical circles, but largely unknown to the wider population.
Here are some other unbelievable plays I'd love to see the cast of August: Osage County try their hand at.
1) The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Confusingly, this was originally a novella by Atwood, but it is an excellent plot, and was adapted by a Canadian stage company. Plus, the whole idea of Benedict Cumberbatch as Odysseus, Abigail Breslin as a reinvented Telemachus and a twelve maiden chorus, perhaps headed by Juliette Lewis, really just ticks all the boxes. Additionally, Atwood's signature style of writing would lend itself gorgeous to a screenplay, make this happen Hollywood, and make it happen now.
2) Soul of A Whore by Denis Johnson
Johnson is as controversial as he is talented, and his script about possessions, murder, religion, and strippers is graphic and exciting enough to translate beautifully to the screen. Additionally, Johnson's command of the english language is as unique as it is challenging, were this to be made into a screenplay, he'd need to be the brain behind it. Plus, the part of Bess Cassandra was made to be played by Meryl Streep, in fact, if it never happens, the world will have really missed out on something spectacular.
3) The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures by Tony Kushner
If the name Tony Kushner sounds familiar to you, it's because he was the god behind Angels In America, the award winning play and equally magical HBO mini-series. However, his other work is just as beautiful, just as well constructed and brainy, and therefore equally worthy of viewing. This family drama has a hint of the August: Osage County feel to it, but with less deeply rooted sadness and more intellectual debate, family argument and well, more Brooklyn. This ensemble would simply rock the hell of the spirited debate and wordy disagreement that is classic Kushner, and delightfully present in this work. Wantwantwantwant.
4) The Rover by Aphra Behn
Yes, adapting The Rover would be pulling one out of the vault, but Behn's badassery and hardcore Restoration hilarity is as timeless as it is poignant, and in my mind's eye I can see Ewan McGregor's Willmore as a beautiful, period halfway point between his Renton of Trainspotting and Christian of Moulin Rouge! Julia Roberts would be a showstopping Angellica Bianca, and besides, period is so very fetch right now and Restoration era comedy was definitely the most punk rockingest period of ye old english drama.
5) The Speculator by David Grieg
So this is my real fangirl pick, since I think David Grieg's writing style is so beautiful sparse and open, it would lend itself well to the screen. Plus, the plot, of bank collapse and public revolt, is one that strikes close to home in the current financial troubles being had all around the world. Also, the joy of seeing all these actors try their hand at Scottish accents would warm the cockles of my cold heart.