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Three generations of driven, intelligent women

Pygmalion Theatre Company’s season continues with “Eleemosynary,” by Lee Blessing, directed by Jeremy Chase, which plays Feb. 24 through March 11. The show stars Barb Gandy, Tracie Merrill and Sydney Shoell. “Eleemosynary,” which premiered in 1985, follows the relationships between three generations of women. The word ‘eleemosynary’ itself plays a significant part in the plot. The play probes into the delicate relationship of three singular women: the grandmother, Dorothea, who has sought to assert her independence through strong-willed eccentricity; her brilliant daughter, Artie (Artemis), who has fled the stifling domination of her mother; and Artie’s daughter, Echo, a child of exceptional intellect—and sensitivity—whom Artie has abandoned to an upbringing by Dorothea. As the play begins, Dorothea has suffered a stroke, and while Echo has reestablished contact with her mother, it is only through extended telephone conversations, during which real issues are skirted and their talk is mostly about the precocious Echo’s single-minded domination of a national spelling contest. But, in the end, both Artie and Echo come to accept their mutual need and summon the courage to try, at last, to build a life together – despite the risks and terrors that this holds for both of them after so many years of alienation.

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