Night, Mother’, by Marsha Norman is a play based on a complicated relationship between a child and their parent - Jessie and Thelma Cates. Norman’s Pulitzer-prize winning drama is set on the eve of the night when Jessie tells her mother that she wants to commit suicide.
This confession opens a dialogue between the two characters where they are forced to address and expose parts of themselves that they previously had left untouched. The play addresses this fact and it’s toxicity in the context of mental illness and its incommensurability within the Indian familial narrative.
‘Night, mother’ isn’t a play about suicide, it’s a tale that makes visible the inner workings of a suicidal mind. It uncovers the conflict between rationalities of Jessie and Thelma as they attempt to understand each other for the first time. This process of understanding takes place in real time, the stakes are high and each word has a crippling sense of finality to it.
The treatment of the script is such that it has been re-contextualized to resonate with an Indian audience. The audience is present in the conversation between the characters not only as voyeuristic onlookers but vicariously as the two characters