'Night Mother

  • by Marsha Norman
  • Narrated by Sharon Gless, Katherine Helmond
  • 1 hrs and 2 mins
  • Performance

Publisher's Summary

This play tells the powerful story of an epileptic woman in her early 40s systematically preparing her own death...and the frantic and touching efforts of her mother to stop her. This searing drama, which won the Pulitzer Prize on Broadway, is guaranteed to keep any listener on the edge of their seat.

Starring (in alphabetical order):

Sharon Gless as Jessie Cates
Katherine Helmond as Thelma Cates


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

You WILL Cry!

In my youth, I had a strange list of comfort films that I would turn to both when I was happy or feeling blue. My mom never understood why I gravitated to A Trip to Bountiful, Mrs. Brown, Remains of the Day, and my special favorite ‘night, Mother. I’m sure a part of me likes “sad” things, but I think that even as a youngster, I’ve always been attracted to simplistic beauty that is both deep and meaningful. It’s hard to marry these elements, especially in literature and film, but when I come across them, I have to snatch them up!

I am currently reading a literary thriller wherein the victim was murdered in such a way as to call in to question whether it was self-administered. When perusing the victim’s bedroom, the uncanny order of the closets lead one of the detectives to question whether the victim had “arranged” things in preparation for death, as is common with many people contemplating suicide. I couldn’t help but remember ‘night, Mother, which I had no idea was a play—further yet, that it garnered the Pulitzer Prize in 1983.

A one-act play spanning a few hours, this quite simply is the story of a woman, Jessie, preparing for her death, and her candid, endearing conversation with her mother, who desperately tries to both understand and dissuade her daughter from taking her life. It is such a beautifully written play, and though it’s heavy in scope, I never felt overwhelmed. You find yourself playing the devil’s advocate for both sides, as you’re forced to see how life and its disappointments can snub the life force out of some people who are too “good” for all of the bad out there.

I think the line that just made me lose it was the following, and even reading it now, it just gets to my core!

“…I didn't know! I was here with you all the time. How could I know you were so alone?”
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- Evie B.

Haunting, heartbreaking and incredibly powerful

I’ve seen the destructive influence of unchecked depression, and this short play — in its simplicity and honesty — is so accurately painful.

If there is such a thing as “beautiful tragedy” I don’t think you’ll find anything closer than the dialogue between Jessie and her mama.
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- Matthew

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-20-2006
  • Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works