By: Ronnie Ruff
Eleemosynary Catalyst Theater
Spelling Bees, flying children and the joy of articulate vernacular are all part of the simple diversion that is Lee Blessing’s Eleemosynary. This is a story of three bright women; a mother, daughter and grandmother and the ties that bind them together.
There is nothing traditional about these women or their relationships but that is the sheer bliss of Christopher Janson’s production. Echo (Lindsay Haynes), who’s opening monologue is simply wonderful, longs for the love of her mother but she is not able to find the maternal instincts needed to provide that love. Raised by her grandmother, she is a spelling bee champion and the only one with her head on straight. Artie (Kathleen Coons) is Echo’s mother, emotionally dysfunctional due to being raised by the overbearing, flighty Dorothea (Ellen Young) who is convinced that with wings Artie could and should fly. Dorothea suffers a stroke and Echo and Artie arrive to provide the extra care and support. Through a series of flashbacks we learn how these fragile relationships developed and why eleemosynary is ultimately the most important word used in this production where words are played as orchestral instruments.
The scenic design by Milagros Ponce de León can only be described as simple but thoughtful beauty. Three wooden wings reach for the sky in symbolic gesture while the lighting by Alexander Cooper bathes the set in warm color. The result is the perfect atmosphere for this play of dignified, poetic elegance.
Eleemosynary is a beautiful tale of forgiveness and charity told with beautifully scripted wordplay. With three strong performances and visually stunning staging this show should be on your must see list.