Middle-Aged Suicide (Don't Do It!)
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Middle-Aged Suicide (Don’t Do It!)

Soulpepper continues its year-round season with Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer Prize–winning drama ‘Night, Mother. Written after the suicide of one of Norman’s close friends, this quiet, personal drama tells the story of a mother and daughter’s strained relationship in a single scene, at the beginning of which the daughter informs the mother that she will be killing herself that night. The play not only consists of the events that take place between this revelation and the act itself, which involves the mother, Thelma, pleading for the daughter, Jessie, to change her mind, but also the simple, mundane events of a typical night in. The mother-daughter dynamic owes more than a little to Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, and the play can almost be read as a the further adventures of Laura and Amanda Wingfield.
Alisa Palmer directs a very straightforward production of the play: the scripts every bag of Ho Hos, jar of licorice allsorts, and sofa slipcover remain intact and in detail. The choice works, and it’s actually somewhat refreshing to see a production of an established play that doesn’t involve a director forcing and obnoxious and ill-fitting concept onto the work. The performances are also very compelling. Dawn Greenhalgh’s Thelma is clueless, a little goofy, and entirely believable, while Megan Follows’s Jessie is a woman who is entirely convinced she has made the right decision, and the two play off each other beautifully. The strange thing about ‘Night, Mother is that while the dialogue is all highly realistic and credible, the situation itself is somewhat questionable. Who would inform their mother of their impending suicide and expect her to be okay with it? If you can suspend your disbelief on that one detail, you’re in for an affecting, beautiful night of theatre.
‘Night, Mother runs at the Young Centre until June 21.
Photo by Sandy Nicolson.