A South Whidbey theater company is closing out its season with a mouthful of a title.
“Eleemosynary,” a six-syllable word meaning charitable, is the latest show from OutCast Productions and opens Friday. Written by Lee Blessing, the 1985 multi-act play follows three generations of women across time: young national spelling bee champion Echo, her straight-laced mother Artie and her eccentric grandmother Dorothea.
With just three characters and minimal set design, words take center stage. Though over three decades old, the script explores difficult family dynamics that may still resonate with today’s audiences; Echo has been raised by grandmother Dorothea but is seeking a closer relationship with mother Artie after many years of separation.
“This is a story that I thought would be a wonderful fit for OutCast, but we haven’t had the right season to do it until now,” said Ned Farley, a co-founder of OutCast Productions.
Farley has kept “Eleemosynary” in his back pocket for years. He admires the play for its well-crafted ending, something that can be hard to come by in scripts.
“In my experience, there are quite a high percentage of plays that have a great storyline, but they don’t have an end,” he said.
The cast is all from Whidbey Island, with Shelley Hartle playing Dorothea, Marta Mulholland playing Artie and Rysha Maier playing Echo. South Whidbey resident Patricia Duff makes her debut as the director – this is her first time directing a play on Whidbey Island.
“I’ve been having so much fun directing this play,” Duff said. “I think it’s because I really love acting so much so I love helping the actors find the characters because I have a lot of experience with that.”
The play is a mix of drama and comedy, a universal take on the mother-daughter relationship. Men are peripheral in the three women’s lives.
“I find it interesting that a man wrote a play for three women so beautifully,” Duff said. “That just goes to show you that the imagination is a powerful thing.”
Though only 90 minutes long, “Eleemosynary” is sure to pack a punch.
The new play runs Nov. 18 through Dec. 3 at the Black Box Theater, which is located at 819 Camano Avenue in Langley. Tickets can be purchased online or at the show. Masks are recommended. For more information, visit outcastproductions.net.