Thomas Gough kick starts the dark comedy of August: Osage County
by Drew Rowsome-
"My first two lines are, 'My wife takes pills and I drink. That's the bargain we struck.'" says Thomas Gough of his role in August: Osage County. Gough's role consists of an opening monologue to set up the play and Gough confesses that, busy juggling three other sets of rehearsals, he hasn't seen the entire production or even read the ending of the script but, "I am the subject of most of the subsequent discussion so it will be fascinating to see."
Gough has worked for the Alumnae Theatre before, as Lizzie Borden's father in Blood Relations and as part of the New Ideas Festival. August: Osage County was already rehearsing when Gough got the call, "He said they needed someone who loves language. It's a small role but if it's interesting and something I haven't done before, it's a great role. This is a great role." His character, The Poet, does his monologue and then, "I disappear. They search for me, discover I've killed myself, and all the skeletons tumble out of the closet."
Alumnae Theatre describes the production as "Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, Tracy Letts’ darkly comic drama August: Osage County is a harrowing epic that puts the 'fun' in 'dysfunctional.'" Gough notes that it was a huge hit on Broadway and is "full of really unpleasant people you wouldn't want to meet offstage but who make for great drama. There are two really good fight scenes which I have watched. They're really horrifying. Each time I think that she's really decked that guy."
Gough has played many roles including a morally ambiguous turn in Donors ("I met writer/director Brandon Crone as an actor but as a writer he's so weird and dark, you could even say perverse, but it's convincing and very funny") and an ambiguously malevolent supporting role in Bentat Hart House, a theatre where he has also essayed many Shakespearean roles. As well as August: Osage County, he is working on the annual sketch comedy show for the Arts and Letters Club, an "interesting, quirky play by Nina Kaye, one of three short pieces for a night based on Comedia dell'arte and the tarot deck," and a collection of Anne Frank scenes that will be touring schools.
"I was a teacher for many years," says Gough, "and I loved working with young people. And Toronto theatre is full of people in the twenties with a sense of adventure and not playing by the rules. I'm working with people who know what they're doing." While having a beer after rehearsal, one of the crew members marvelled that the production they were working on was surprisingly ego-free, and Gough corrected him. "There's lots of ego but it goes into the work. They seem to say, 'I know I'm good so I have to do good work.'"
Gough is enthused about all the creativity in the vibrant Toronto theatre scene. And happy about all the roles that he is getting. "I love stuff that makes me learn stuff. I love playing comedy but don't often get the chance - people think I'm a lot less funny than I am. I'm fortunate to have a very flexible face but when relaxed I tend to look bad-tempered." Perfect for putting the 'fun' in 'dysfunctional.'
August: Osage County runs Fri, April 8 to Sat, April 23 at Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley St. alumnaetheatre.com