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PAINTING CHURCHES O'Connell & Company/Park School
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Nov 18, 2017, 00:26
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Through November 19
PAINTING CHURCHES O’Connell & Company/Park School

By Augustine Warner

Time erodes.
Whether it’s some Neolithic burial mound or a medieval cathedral in Europe or a street in Buffalo worn down by traffic or salt, time takes a toll.
It can also take a toll on the human brain, sometimes awful like Alzheimer’s or just the slow eating away of our ability to remember all of the things important to us, the good and the bad.
That’s what Tina Howe’s “Painting Churches” is about, the eroding memories of a well-known poet, perhaps from Alzheimer’s, and the effect on his wife of years of taking care of her husband as a brilliant mind dims.
Their daughter comes home for a visit, when they are forced to move from the palatial pleasures of Boston’s Beacon Hill to their summer cottage as a year-round home.
Fanny Church (Tina Rausa) and Gardiner Church (Jack Horohoe) are from the Boston aristocracy, his home on Louisbourg Square and apparently Harvard, and her roots in the same class in The Hub of the Universe.
Margaret “Mags” Church (Sara Kow-Falcone) is an artist in New York who seldom comes home because her relationship with her parents is very bad and she doesn’t know how bad her father has become.
With her birth home being vacated, she comes home to fulfill her dream to paint her parents for an exhibit in New York of her portraits.
She arrives to find Fanny packing and Gardiner lost somewhere in his mind as his world changes.
He can’t participate in the packing and the dismantling of the study in which he did academic work and his poetry.
As is so often true, the poet fades in and out, recognizing his daughter but forgetting tales of the terrible way the daughter was treated by her mother and father.
The show is very depressing, despite great performances by all three performers, along with strong direction from Lucas Lloyd and Joel J. Resnikoff’s effective set on the Park School stage.
This isn’t a movie of the week with a happy ending, although this ending is a little bit of happiness in what we all know is a bleak picture.
The story is too true and most of us have seen this happen, perhaps in a close family member.
Depressing plays can often lead to a depressing departure from the theater.
Here, great performances in "Painting Churches" balance a downer of a show because it’s reality.

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