The Venus Theatre production of “Grieving for Genevieve” falls into the classification of a dysfunctional family drama. If you were to compare it to some other dysfunctional family dramas I have seen recently like “Other Desert Cities” and “August: Osage County” it might not hold up well. However, it was an unexpectedly enjoyable evening of entertainment in the extremely intimate black box theatre. The warning before the show that there will be objects thrown comes true as they make good use of the waxed fruit and set pieces being thrown around. The show tells the story of a family of three daughters and their mother coming together for the middle daughters third wedding and each of the daughters having been damaged throughout their life by their mother. The eldest daughter, Danni, has escaped the clutches of the family home in Baltimore by escaping and making a life for herself in New York, leaving the middle daughter, Delilah, to feel put upon and responsible for their mother Genevieve all while making a living in a band and as a costume maker for strippers. The youngest daughter, Angel, escaped Genevieve in her own way by becoming a nun. And then there is Genevieve, which is partly where the show lost some of its edge.
As performed, Genevieve came across as the meddling mother; however, the performance lacked that undertone of nastiness and manipulation that would garner the resentment that the three daughters had to her. For example, when Delilah is going off to make a bridesmaid dress for her older sister, Genevieve wants to make the dress because she can do a better job even though Delilah’s job is as a seamstress. The comment was performed as almost an aside as opposed to a flat out putdown to her daughter’s capabilities. The most subtle and interesting performance in the show was by Kelsey Painter as the youngest daughter and nun, Angel. I don’t know where Ms. Painter is from, but she was the only actress to even attempt to use the Baltimore accent, which really added to the character and the lower class struggle that the family came from. There were nice moments of humor that she added as well, such as every time she lit up a cigarette she would cross herself as if she had just finished a prayer. The characters of Delilah and Danni were not flushed out as well. They were one note characters with Delilah clomping around in revealing outfits while always speaking at a shouting like level and Danni in ill-fitting outfits that just resented everything about her life. Although these two characters did share the funniest moment of the show when they got into a fight where they were just slapping each others breasts. That being said, these characters all played their role in helping further the ultimate moral of the story that not everyone is exactly who you think they are when you first meet them. So, if you want an enjoyable evening of theatre in an extremely intimate setting this show is worth checking out.