Thursday, November 4, 2010

'Night Mother by Marsha Norman (1983)

Summary:  Jessie is planning to commit suicide and tells her mother just hours before she plans to do it.  The play chronicles their subsequent night in one continuous scene.  True character traits are revealed and words left unspoken for decades are finally uttered.

Thoughts:  No play in the Project thus far has made me as uncomfortable as this one.  Perhaps because I was familiar with the story before reading it, I knew that when Jessie promised suicide that this was a promise she would fulfill.

Adding to my discomfort was the fact that, for 18 years, I lived in a house with two women--my mother and grandmother.  They have interactions that mirror Marsha Norman's prologue note, "There is a shorthand to the talk and a sense of routine comfort to the way they relate to each other physically.  Naturally, there are also routine aggravations" (4). 

The play is a fifty-eight page scene with no intermission.  The New York Times blurb on the back of the Dramatists acting edition simply states, "...a shattering evening..."  I agree.  And know that it is not something I ever want to spend an evening witnessing.

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