SHOWING : September 29, 2006 - November 02, 2006
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Eleemosynary (el·ee·mos'·y·nar·y) - charatible, the giving of alms.
And so begins one of the real gems of the contemporary American Theatre written by perhaps the best home-grown playwrights to appear in the last 15 years.
In Eleemosynary playwright Lee Blessing, like he does in all his work, celebrates the joy of language and its intrinsic power to create storms of imagery. In this short, eliptical and direct play which demands a symbolic staging, Blessing gives us three generations of Westbrook women- a unique family blessed (and cursed) with supreme intelligence and eccentricity.
Special Evening Schedule:
Friday, Sept 29, 8:00 pm
Saturday, Sept 30, 8:00 pm
Lunchtime Matienee Schedule:
Wednesday, Oct 4, noon
Thursday, Oct 5, noon
Wednesday, Oct 11, noon
Thursday, Oct 12, noon
Wednesday, Oct 18, noon
Thursday, Oct 19, noon
Wednesday, Oct 25, noon
Thursday, Oct 26, noon
Wednesday, Nov 1, noon
Thursday, Nov 2, noon
Come at 11:00 AM and enjoy lunch before the show. Bring your lunch or purchase it at the wonderful Kudzu Kafe. Check the Kudzu website for more details: .
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"Love" is a word misspelled by many...|
Sunday, October 1, 2006 ||
One of the things that bother me about Community Theater is that so often the shows are lightweight in nature. Community theater groups frequently pick material that will easily entertain (and put butts in the seats), but not require the audience to think or pay attention too closely. The audience gets used to, and expects, a certain kind of rhythm in performances and they know how to handle that. Comedies, farces, musicals and the standards are served with regularity…and banality. But there is a breath of fresh air blowing through one of our local community theaters.|
It is Kudzu Playhouse’s production of “Eleemosynary” written by Lee Blessing.
This is a wonderfully challenging piece of work. It is a thought provoking examination of the relationships between three strong women. The fact that they are related as grandmother, mother and daughter just adds another dimension to this exploration of how people choose to be who they are, yet can’t escape the family they are born into.
The material is extremely well written with deeply drawn, detailed characters: easy to accept on the surface, yet wonderfully textured below. This is not “heavy” dark drama by any means, but does cover some pretty serious ground while also providing some wickedly clever light touches of humor. A woman’s place in the world (as seen through three generations), combined with the effects of a dysfunctional mother’s love, provide a rich palette of emotional soul searching for the actors to draw from.
The three characters are distinct and deep. Echo, the youngest, who will become “the perfect child”, obsesses over “spelling” as her mechanism to bring her closer to her absentee mother. Artie, Echo’s mother, knows that life will be better just as soon as she gets far enough away from her own mother. Dorothea, the “force of nature” matriarch, has actively chosen eccentricity as her coping mechanism after being forced to sublimate her talents and minimize herself by the societal pressures inflicted on women in her day.
Once again Adrianna Warner has assembled a talented and well balanced cast who work very well together. The staging choice of using a series of wooden boxes with letters painted on them like a child’s spelling blocks and rearranging them to show “place” is splendidly minimal and effective. It supports the “spelling” motif but doesn’t overshadow or interfere. Use of the wooden boxes was subtle and provided just the outline of the scenes allowing the audience to use their imagination to fill in the details. That’s my favorite kind of set.
The three women in the story are strong women and they are ably played by strong actors.
Mary Sittler as Dorothea, the “eccentric” matriarch, finds a perfect balance in her portrayal. The temptation would be to make her character comically “kooky” or outright “crazy”. Mary’s energy onstage is more subdued and she allows the audience to discover her character in pastels instead of presenting Dorothea to us in garish primary colors. Her movements, expressions and inflection tell the tale between the lines, long before her dialogue does.
Margarita Moldovan expresses the self-inflicted isolation of Artie with body language that instantly communicates her loneliness. In addition to that, she skillfully presents her character’s inner conflict of being an intelligent woman who often does less-than-intelligent things. She gains the audience’s sympathy, even though her character can be cold, emotionally distant and borderline cruel. That’s a very tough thing to accomplish, and she does it very well.
Morgan Coffey, as Echo, was impressive! She handled the tasks of being a “brainiac” and an emotionally damaged young girl with skill and talent beyond her years. Her love for both her Grandmother and Mother was so convincing, she had the audience in tears during the more “heartfelt” scenes. I look forward to seeing this young woman in future shows. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on!
The night I saw the show there were some minor technical issues with light cues and actors not “finding their light”, but hearing dialogue from the shadows was somehow appropriate for many of the scenes.
This is exceptional writing in a thoughtful production with a talented cast. In other words: good “theatre”!
The only thing I regret is that by the time this is posted, the only chance you will have to see it is during the day. This show will move from its special “two nights only" premiere performances to its scheduled run as the second show of the season in Kudzu’s Lunchtime Matinee series. Check the website for performance dates and times.
Take a day off, or an extended lunch break, and go see this show. You won’t regret it. Definitely one of the best I've seen this year!
Disclaimer: I still think Adriana Warner walks on water. Once you see this one, you’ll understand why. I am so grateful to have worked with her, to know her and to consider her a friend and mentor. (She, of course, may feel otherwise.)
[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
| || agree with Rial by andy|
| I definately want to see this show. Rial is right, to be able to work with Adrianna is a blessing|
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by David Shire (music), Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyrics)