Wednesday, November 11, 2009

'Night Mother - by Marsha Norman

Pulitzer prize winning play of 1983, 'Night Mother opens with a mother straining for some cupcakes on a high shelf and her daughter, Jessie looking for some towels that her mother doesn't want anymore and a big piece of plastic or garbage bags. Then Jessie is looking for her father's gun. We learn that Jessie has a wayward son and that they are getting ready for her mother's weekly manicure. And then, bottom of page 5, Jessie says, "I'm going to kill myself, Mama."

Through the rest of the play, which unfolds without a break, Mama tries to convince her not to and Jessie goes through a long checklist of things she wants to do before she goes. Getting the house in order for her mother, giving away some items, passing on information and asking some questions. We learn more about Jessie's life. That she's an epileptic, that she was married and had a son, her husband left her - and had been sortof selected for her by her mother.

Sometimes her mother goes to the phone to call - but stops herself. Jessie has said she'd shot herself immediately if her mom calls for help - still...

Jessie's thought through this and decided. She's been planning it. She's feeling good because she's decided to do this. Watching the mother you want her to stop her - to try harder to stop her - and you have the sense of helplessness, share the sense of helplessness to do anything.

And finally, Jessie does it.

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