Thursday, 28 October 2021

REVIEW: Night, Mother at the Hampstead Theatre

Night, Mother is a Hampstead Theatre original play, written by Marsha Norman. Directed by Roxana Silbert, it is set on a normal Saturday evening at home in rural North America with Thelma (Stockard Channing) and her daughter, Jessie (Rebecca Night). Ti Green’s set is warm and comforting despite the disturbing events that follow; Jessie has calmly decided that tonight she will commit suicide and nothing will change her mind.

The script is good, it touches on many topics; sickness, divorce and stigma and Thelma tries to understand why her daughter is suicidal. It leads us to question whether a person really needs a ‘reason’ to want to end their life, or if it is a decision you simply make; something as easy as getting off a bus if you have had enough of the ride (as Jessie states).

The relationship between the characters on and off stage is vague- including Jessie’s son- with names mentioned on several occasions with little follow up. Whether this is the writers’ choice or not is difficult to discern and meant that several anecdotes added very little to the story. 

The jokes fell flat and a little stale in today’s world, but the performers push the play along by working around the confused dialogue. Just as it feels like something momentous is about to be uncovered, they become distracted by folding a sheet or rearranging the pans. These menial tasks cut any suspense that was built up, and the ending comes as no surprise.

It is overall quite dreary, and the themes of suicide and relationships are never fully explored. Night’s performance as Jessie is more convincing and she makes great use of the stage despite delivering some awkward lines, however, the Director could have injected much more energy into them both to tease out more emotion and provoke a greater response from the audience. 

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Stalls Arcade M6 | Price of Ticket: £32

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