continues through March 19. Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co., 937 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $22.50. pghplaywrights.org
I usually don’t get to say this about a play, but Findings could stand to be a bit longer. The Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Co.’s world premiere of Arlene Weiner’s family drama is in serious need of a bit more backstory for its initially confusing narrative, which eventually settles down into a coherent and often absorbing tale.
The title can refer to the results of, say, research or medical exams. The actual first mention of “findings” — to my amusement as a jewelry-maker — was to the craft’s hardware (pinbacks, jump-rings, earwires, etc.) as opposed to the decorative beads, stones and other fancies. But the play is a series of “findings,” as in revelations, so the risk of spoiler alerts curtails discussion of the plot.
As with many good dramas, Findings begins with the death of the central character and tells its story in flashback. Unfortunately, it takes several scenes to establish just who this person is and how she connects to the players you’ve already met. (Allowable spoiler so you can avoid my stumbles: It’s Gloria Bazon.) Also, there’s not enough “before” to establish the wonderful person being eulogized at the funeral, “after” her downward spiral.
Directed by Lisa Ann Goldsmith, Findings provides mucho opportunities for women to shine. Lissa Brennan grabs Gloria’s dysfunction with both hands and teeth for a glorious portrait of a woman out of control. As her elder sister, Jennifer Cortland, Amy Marsalis reflects common sense and strength, not to mention over-protectiveness toward both Gloria and daughter Lainie. Julia de Avilez Rocha credibly captures that whiny, self-centered teenager.
The men are sympathetic but definitely secondary: John Michnya as Dr. Cortland, supportive husband and doting father; Sam Lothard as the loving teddy bear, but much sinned-against, husband of Gloria; and Charles David Richards in a trio of roles.
While the pacing is a bit erratic, Findings looks and sounds great, thanks to the always dependable scenic designer and painter Diane Melchitzky, and the excellent sound designer Mark Whitehead.
Capable of lifting both eyebrows and hearts, Findings offers an instructive evening’s enjoyment.