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posted Friday, November 9, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 45

Lights out
Pulitzer-winning 'night, Mother poses a troubling question

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

'NIGHT, MOTHER
KTO PRODUCTIONS
Through November 17


A tightly directed, challenging one-act is being independently mounted by Seattle's KTO Productions. 'night, Mother by Marsha Norman, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983, is an intense look inside a tortured mother-daughter relationship.

In fact, just moments after we meet Thelma Cates (Bradetta Vines), as she wanders around her house shouting a bit aimlessly to her daughter, Jessie (Danielle Daggerty), Jessie announces that she's going to kill herself - after she gives her mom a manicure. Jessie's aim in telling her mother this is to spare her the anguish of not knowing why she did it. Jessie thinks this will be helpful, so her mother doesn't focus on how or why she couldn't have stopped her daughter's action.

That immediately starts the audience ruminating on the question, If someone in your life were going to commit suicide, would you want to know ahead of time? Even if you knew there were no options to stop it? The challenge to the audience is intense and draws everyone into a battle to either cope with the inevitable (will Jessie succeed?) or hope for some kind of successful intervention (will Thelma find a way to stop her?).

A BLEAK OUTLOOK
The lives of the Cates women are not glamorous. They eat tons of candy and neither one of them ever leaves the house, due to their multiple emotional problems. Jessie also has epilepsy, which at the time of Norman's composition was much more debilitating than it is now. Driving was impossible, along with many other tasks. The two also live far out in the country.

In the course of the evening, Jessie lays out all the ways she has tried and found failure in her life, with a failed marriage, a son who seems headed for jail, and an inability to hold even the least challenging of jobs. She's decided that the one thing she can control is whether to continue living this aimless, unfulfilling life. Thelma's life is similar, though she is more determined to survive. But that survival mechanism is not easy to quantify or explain to another person, and she can't find a way to transmit it to her daughter.

The production, directed by Doug Knoop, is well-acted and the rundown living-room set by Mad Dog Productions works well to demonstrate the pair's meager circumstances. It's not a very comfortable subject, but the experience of the challenge is well worthwhile.

For more information, go to http://ktoproductions.net or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/279511, or call 1-800-838-3006.

Discuss your opinions with sgncritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters.



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