IF YOU GO
What: 1880 Theatricals presents ‘night, Mother
Where: The Centre Theater, 208 DeKalb St. Norristown.
When: Sept. 14-16 and 21-23 at 8 p.m.; Sept. 17th at 2 p.m.
Tickets: Purchase online: $22.50; or at the door: $25. Opening night special: two tickets for one price.
If you knew today would be your last day on earth, how would you spend your time? What would you talk about? How would you savor the last precious moments of life in your final hour? These are some of the questions that come to the fore in playwright Marsha Norman’s poignantly dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning script, “‘night, Mother,” which also received a Tony Award nomination for best play in 1983, among others.
“It’s an exploration of the relationship of two women who’ve had a lot of disappointment in their unfulfilled lives,” said Director David Deratzian. “It’s an interesting conversation.”
For the next 90 minutes, the audience will be eye witnesses to the stunning and heartbreaking drama of hopelessness in a small town where in the context of a nicely appointed living room and a clean-and-tidy kitchen in a home set on a lonely southern road, they meet Thelma Cates (played by Susan Blair) and her daughter Jesse (played by Allison Deratzian). Jessie is an out-of-work divorcee and an epileptic with a n’er-do-well son. While she and her widowed mother calmly discuss life one Saturday evening, they entertain questions never broached before: “Why did you never wear the sweater I made for you?” to “Why did your husband leave you?” and everything in between.
The evening seems relatively pleasant for a time, but what’s under the surface is desperate to come out. With mounting tension, the story line follows Thelma as she absorbs the shock, denial and acceptance of her daughter’s wish to commit suicide. At one point she asks Jesse why must she do this? After all, they “have a good life” according to Thelma. Her daughter speaks in a measured tone and tells her why by using the analogy of a bus route. “I’ve come to my stop.”
September is suicide prevention month and Veteran Director David Deratzian, who is producing and directing the show through his new production company, 1880 Theatricals, said, “It’s a play that needs to be done.”
A round table talk-back with the audience is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 22, after the performance. A number of healthcare professionals will be leading the discussion. Deratzian and his wife, Allison, have been interested in producing the play for a long time. It’s one of tough subject matter yet begs to be shown.
“What we found interesting is that the play itself takes no position as to suicide,” said Deratzian, “Is it the ultimate act of self care?”
Whether it’s self-care or just selfish, the poignant reminder that suicide is a genuine tragedy is highlighted in this play... hopefully, in a light where the reasons for suicide are fully understood by all concerned.