ensemble theatre · kas productions · United States of America

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June 15, 2015 certified reviewer

My overall impression


• adjective el·ee·mo·sy·nary \ˌe-li-ˈmä-sə-ˌner-ē, ˈmō; ˈmä-zə\

• Definition of ELEEMOSYNARY
: of, relating to, or supported by charity


•Medieval Latin eleemosynarius, from Late Latin eleemosyna alms — more at alms
•First Known Use: circa 1616

altruistic, beneficent, benevolent, do-good, charitable, good, humanitarian, philanthropic (also philanthropical)
• Antonyms
self-centered, self-concerned, selfish

And quite an exceptional word for a spelling bee. An interesting introduction to a story about three generations of related but very different females — none of whom fit the definition.

The set is minimal: four large apple boxes in a row, four small stacks of books, two folding chairs, and a pair of wishful wings waiting for the right person to wear on their arms, flap, and fly by sheer will – an idea promulgated by the matriarch (Dorothea), who goes to great effort to convince her daughter (Artie) to try it more than once.

“The secret of flight lies in the assurance that we are worthy of flying” – An admirable philosophical conclusion eschewing the laws of aerodynamics, and one that Artie ultimately rejects. She separates herself from the immediate dangers of her mother’s conclusions and pours herself into the world of biochemistry, in which she excels – a world that also consumes her completely. Whether that is intentional or not is more or less confirmed shortly after her own daughter (Echo) is born, and is left with grandmother Dorothea to raise as Artie pursues a research opportunity half a world away.

There is minimal contact between mother and daughter until Echo grows into a young girl with a particular talent for spelling words. An obsessive talent. This provides an avenue for Artie to communicate with her daughter in the only way she is apparently comfortable with: long telephone calls that consist of Echo spelling words that Artie chooses from a dictionary – and little else in the way of conversation. Echo’s pleas to see her mother go unanswered – until the spelling bee.

There is much I’m leaving out. The story truly jerked me in multiple directions based on my own life. The actors were all superb and believable in their unbelievable roles, and the set proved to be just perfect. Two thumbs up from me.

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