High-octane drama is unfolding on the Good Theater’s stage with an up-close-and-personal look into the better-than-reality television lives of the Weston family. The theater’s most popular production to date, “August: Osage County,” is back for a 15-performance run. And emotions are running at full throttle this time around.

Oklahoma was everything but OK Thursday night as the Weston family secrets bubbled to the surface in the small town of Pawhuska. Tempers, emotions, wit and plates, among other things, were flying as the Westons gathered, following the mysterious disappearance of the family’s patriarch, Beverly (Chris Horton).

The Good Theater has reunited all but one of the 13 cast members from last year’s production — Allison McCall takes on the role of Jean Fordham, previously played by Emma Banks — to once again bring Tracy Letts’ three-act epic to life.

Audiences couldn’t ask for a more riveting interpretation. It’s like seeing a production at the end of its run, but better. Last year’s 20-performance run was one heck of a dress rehearsal that’s afforded the cast the opportunity to fine-tune the characterizations, amp up the witty dialogue and realistically capture an emotionally charged slice of life.

Lisa Stathoplos was completely immersed in her role as the pill-popping matriarch, Violet, on Thursday, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. Her slurred speech, derailed train of thought, unsteady gait and antagonistic manner were so believable that it wouldn’t have come as a surprise if a rehab team had shown up at the end of the performance to admit the actress into a three-step program.

She remained in character throughout the three-hour-plus play, succeeding in capturing both the raw emotion and humor of the role, without caricature.

Her performance was fueled by Kathleen Kimball’s emotionally taut portrayal of Barbara Fordham, Beverly and Violet’s oldest daughter. The character unraveled before the audience’s eyes, overwhelmed by the reality of her soap-opera-like life. The explosive last scene between mother and daughter is definitely something to see.

The Weston clan is a large family that also includes Beverly and Violet’s daughters, Ivy (Amy Roche) and Karen (Janice Gardner); Violet’s sister, Mattie Fae Aiken (Cynthia Barnett); Mattie Fae’s husband, Charlie (Charles Michael Howard), and son, Little Charles (Brent Askari); Barbara’s husband, Bill (Mark Rubin); and Karen’s fiance, Steve Heidebrecht (Paul Drinan). Non-family members Johnna Monevata (Katherine Davis), the Westons’ housekeeper, and Deon Gilbeau (David Branch), the town sheriff, round out the amazing cast.

It would be easy to go on and on about each cast member. All artfully bring out all the wonderful quirks and unstable aspects of their characters. And the actor dynamics are superb.

“August: Osage County” has it all: passion, intrigue, incest, adultery, drugs, alcohol and abuse, to name just a few story elements. It’s gripping drama, with a healthy dose of wit and humor and a multi-layered plot that unveils something new with each viewing. It’s a production worth seeing again and again.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at: [email protected]