Last night, Bwog’s Theater-Goer Extraordinaire Gabby Beans sat in on the opening night of CUP’s “‘night, Mother.”
The Glicker-Milstein Theater in the Diana Center could not have housed a more beautiful and devastating production this season. The CU Players’ production of Marsha Norman’s “‘night, Mother” is a challenging piece in every conceivable sense.
The story unfolds slowly. The audience is privy to a private and almost uncomfortably intimate glimpse into one hour in the life of Thelma, a lively older woman with an insatiable sweet-tooth (played by Morgaine Gooding-Silverwood, CC ‘14), and her middle-aged, epileptic daughter Jessie (played by Kate Eberstadt CC ’13). Just as soon as you are lulled into a sense of comfort in the naturalness of the domestic scene, a startling revelation is uncovered, sending the piece into an inexorable spiral where both characters grapple with some of the most basic and frightening aspects of the human condition.
The premise of the piece lends itself to an immediate and pointed emotional response, but the skill and honesty of the actors paired with the clarity of the direction is what makes the piece truly effective. Eberstadt’s Jessie is simultaneously decisive and vulnerable, and her defeated carriage clearly transmits the futility of her plight. Gooding-Silverwood plays a miraculously convincing 60+-year-old woman, and her groundedness and remarkable comedic timing provide an essential respite from the play’s more oppressive themes. However, it is the mother-daughter relationship between these two actors that is the chief triumph of the production. Their emotional struggle is both compelling and tragic, steeped in a skillful adherence to reality while maintaining the sense of foreboding appropriate to the play’s morbid subject matter.
In short, “’night, Mother”, directed by Louisa Levy CC ’12, is a remarkably gripping piece performed by talented, honest actors and directed with the clearest of intentions. If you’re looking for a cathartic experience, this is the play to see.
“’night, Mother” is running through Saturday.