Night Mother: A play about life and death- Theatre Review



Many people at one time or another think of suicide and the topic has always been controversial.  Take for example the young woman in Oregon, diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a few months to live, dying with dignity in her own time and space.   Robin Williams' death also brought the thought of suicide into the public view.  This intensely private act provokes an immense public reaction.


For those affected with depression and those living with depressed family and friends, the right to die is a difficult subject to address in any media.  This Pulitzer Prize winning drama has managed to be both poignant, unflinching and darkly humorous. 


During a supposedly normal evening between (Lisa Richards)  Thelma, the mother and (Sylva Kelegian) Jesse, the daughter, the Cates household is shattered by 40 year-old Jesse announcing to Mama that by the end of the evening, she will kill herself.  The rest of the evening, 90 minutes without an intermission, is spent with Thelma desperately trying to convince her daughter that life is worth living.  Thelma has to struggle with what is and what is not in her control.  The pair achieve moments of intimacy and closeness that they probably never had before and brings us into Jesse's world. 


Lauren Sego did the lighting while Jacob Whitmore handled production design.  Steve Baldino dealt with Light and Sound operations as well as stage managing and Aliah Whitmore did the wardrobe.  Daniel Hiscock designed the sets while Jeptha Storm managed the house.


A powerful, contemporary drama, this intense edge-of-your-seat drama keeps the audience guessing until the very end, but at times, it did appear stretched out.  An intermission might have helped.  However, it received a Tony nomination as it appeared on Broadway with Kathy Bates playing opposite Anne Pitoniak.  A second Broadway revival is seen in the future for 2015-16 season and is linked to Oprah Winfrey and Audra McDonald. with George C Wolfe to direct.  


Written by Marsha Norman, "night, Mother," in association with Ellen Gerstein Productions, celebrates its revival at the Whitmore Eclectic and is playing at the Lost Studio, 130 S LaBrea, Los Angeles.   Aliah Whitmore directs the excellent Sylvia Kelegian and Lisa Richards in their award winning performances. 


The play runs November 1, 2014 (Saturdays at 8 pm) through Sunday (at 3 pm) December 14, 2014.   Ticket prices are $20-27.50 and can be had by calling 818 826 3609 or the Whitmore Eclectic.

The Lost Studio is not handicapped-friendly. The long flight of stairs leading up to the theatre can be daunting for someone with motion difficulties.   There is street parking but not always easy to find.  

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