By Lory Martinez
Gabriela Mrvova’s directorial debut this past weekend of Eleemosynary by Lee Blessing transported Binghamton University audiences across the years with the story of three generations of Westbrook women, whose brilliant minds bring them both happiness and misfortune.
The play showcased the talents of Stephanie Naru as Dorothea, the eccentric matriarch of the Westbrook clan; Amanda M. Jones as Artemis, her runaway daughter, and Adriana Caminero as Echo, the youngest and most adept speller the world has ever seen.
The story follows the relationship among the three women, with Echo taking the lead in telling her family’s story. Caminero did a great job of depicting the struggles of this young girl, who, abandoned by an unwilling mother (Artemis), finds solace in the eccentrics of her grandmother and in the roots of Greek and Latin vocabulary words.
“Eleemosynary,” the show’s namesake, is one of her favorite words. It means charitable. Each woman in this family gives knowledge, taking, as Dorothea puts it, the best of what one learns, and giving it back to the world. Naru’s Dorothea is a charming woman whose speeches resonate in a way that warms the heart with a nostalgia for her time.
In the end, this is a play about language and words, and what is and isn’t said because of distance. These women, separated by the years, by life and by silence (by the end, Dorothea’s stroke renders her speechless), are brought together by their love of knowledge.
Eleemosynary, a graduate thesis play, was performed in the Gruber Theater/Studio B of BU’s Fine Arts Building.