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Painting Churches - Off-Broadway

Kathleen Chalfant and Richard Easton star in Tina Howe's comedy.


What Is the Story of Painting Churches?
Painting Churches centers on Gardner and Fanny Church, a elderly WASP couple in Boston, and their artist daughter, Mags. Gardner is a celebrated poet who has begun to decline mentally. Fanny, his flamboyant wife, is preparing for a permanent (and money-saving) move to their Cape Cod cottage. Mags arrives from New York to help her parents pack and to paint their portrait, a project they don’t seem to take seriously. The play explores the origins of the prickly relationship between the Churches and their daughter while poking gentle fun at the world they live in. 

Should I See It?

What Is Painting Churches Like?
Tina Howe’s 1983 comedy wins laughs of recognition for its well-drawn characters: larger-than-life mother Fanny, who proudly models a wardrobe of thrift shop hats; absent-minded father Gardner, caught between the two women in his life; and high-strung daughter Mags, who longs to move beyond unhappy childhood memories and win the approval of her parents. Keen Company has attracted a terrific cast in Kathleen Chalfant, John Cunningham and Kate Turnbull as the three Churches in an intimate production that is well worth seeing.

Is Painting Churches Good for Kids?
There’s nothing objectionable in the play, but the subject matter in this slice-of-WASP-life won’t interest young audiences.