"Never have a daughter. She won’t like you," bemoans Artie. Artie should know. She has rejected her own mother and abandoned her daughter.
Lee Blessing’s "Eleemosynary" at the Colony examines the permutations of the mother-daughter bond among three generations of women. "Eleemosynary" means "of or relating to charity" — but charity doesn’t come easily to the women of this family. To escape the expectations of her repressive husband, Dorothea (Marnie Andrews) has retreated into adamantine eccentricity. Dorothea’s daughter and complete opposite, the scientifically minded Artie (Nancy Learmonth) flees her mother’s influence, leaving her brilliant daughter Echo (Courtney Danielle Saladino) to be raised by Dorothea.
Initially a study in stereotypes,
Blessing’s drama commences with characters that are narrowly defined and
predictable to the point of preciousness. Perhaps to compensate for this
shortcoming, Andrews, Learmonth and Saladino opt for overly broad performances,
at least at first. Be patient. After a shaky start, Blessing’s brief piece
settles down into a mature study of love and loss as the performers, under
the direction of Carol Newell, build to a resonant emotional crescendo.
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