I finally got to see Keen Company's PAINTING CHURCHES - director Carl Forsman kindly gave me comps to the show - and I was right - it is a good play. I could tell by reading it, but it was confirmed by this production. I was choked up by the end - even though I already knew the plot. That is what a play is supposed to do - have some kind of emotional resonance.
I had the same feeling at the end of DEATH OF A SALESMAN and WIT. That emotional impact that sometimes sneaks right up on you. So few plays that I've seen have that kind of impact. Hell, most of the plays written these days don't even try. They're too focused on examining (really, celebrating) man's inhumanity to man or being cutting edge or portentous or making some kind of intellectual observation.
Plays that have a quiet but profound emotional impact like CHURCHES are not what gets produced. Which I think might be part of the reason for why plays by women are produced less often than plays by men, in spite of the fact that plays by women make more money than plays by men. Because the sensitive, subtle emotions evoked by plays like CHURCHES aren't all manly macho kewl. And the cast is two women and a man - it's just so horribly girly. Going to such a play might pollute a man with girl germs and sap his virility. Best go see a play by Adam Rapp - those have manly prostitute sex and violence and bodily fluids galore and are therefore much more prestigious.
Some of the reviews of Keen's PAINTING CHURCHES were pretty negative and I disagree with most of them. I do agree that the actor playing the daughter didn't seem to quite inhabit the character as she should - certainly not in comparison to the way Kathleen Chalfant and John Cunningham inhabited their characters. But as far as the set, which several reviewers bitched about - are they smoking crack? I thought the set design was just about perfect, especially considering the small stage the designer was given to work with. And the direction was just fine - it worked for the play, rather than draw attention to the direction itself. What a radical concept these days.
So never let it be said I hate all plays - I do hate alot of plays, but only because alot of plays are crap. When I find a good play, I like the hell out of it.