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'night, Mother

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  7,293 ratings  ·  140 reviews
'night, Mother is a taut and fluid drama that addresses different emotions and special relations. By one of America's most talented playwrights, this play won the Dramatists Guild's prestigious Hull-Warriner Award, four Tony nominations, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize in 1983.

'night, Mother had its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater
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Paperback, 96 pages
Published August 1st 1983 by Hill and Wang (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

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Eve
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 acro ...more
Kristen
Truly one of my favorite stories of all times. I cry every time I read it. I also wrote a 30-page paper on it, so I think it is fair to call me obsessed. It's a play, so you can easily read it in one sitting...just not on mother's day. :o)
Homa Sharifmousavi
عالی بود،عالی،واقعا موقع خوندنش یه جاهایی نفسم میگرفت،حرفهای یک مادر و دختر در مدت یکی دو ساعت،تلاش برای حرف زدن و درک همدیگه در زمان باقیمانده،تلاش برای توضیح دادن،یه برخورد کامل،با حرفهایی که فقط در موقعیت های خاص میتونن بین دو نفر رد و بدل بشن،حرفهایی که .جنسش برای همه آشناست و همه گوشه و کنار ذهنمون این جنس حرفها رو حداقل با یه نفر داریم
یکی از غمگینترین و زندهترین نمایشنامه هایی که تا به حال خوندم.
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Mike
Terse, tense, and always timely, Marsha Norman's play reaches down into the depth of despair to reveal the stark reality of a dream lost and a life left unlived. Set in anyhome, and anytown, the play takes an unflinching look at the choice to die vs. the desire to live through the eyes of Jessie, an epileptic woman in her late 30's - whose life has remained vague, despite her wish for otherwise. Her mother, a matter-of-fact older woman, must come to face to face with the truth despite her wish t ...more
Bryn
What I would give to have seen the Kathy Bates production.
Cat
Review seen here: http://bookishnonsense.blogspot.com/2...

This is one of those plays where the acting would have to be absolutely stellar. It's all tension. It's about a woman, Jessie, who very calmly goes about her day and tells her mother she is going to kill herself. It's very dark. Norman does an excellent job creating these characters and revealing their stories. There are only two characters in this play, which as I said, heightens the tension. There is no intermission, and you absolutely
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Paula
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ginger
I first heard of this work when I watched the movie adaptation of the play. The movie follows the script very closely, a happy rarity. Years after watching the movie, it still comes to mind very vividly, the story compelling, the characters complex, the writing superb. This is not a happy story, but it is very powerful, and leaves you thinking about the topics, and "what if?" thoughts for weeks afterward. What I wonder most is, would the protagonist have chosen differently, if she'd had access t ...more
Ayana Prende
'night Mother is one of my favourite plays. I found myself shelving it under "dark", which it unquestionably is, and yet, in many ways, it's not dark. Norman challenges our notion that death is the worst possible thing. And she does so in a way that's powerful and profound, and even funny at times.
Booknblues
Night Mother
by Marsha Norman
4 stars
pp. 67

Night Mother by Marsha Norman, the 1983 Pulitzer winning drama is an emotionally draining play. It has only two characters, Jessie Cates, the daughter who lives with her mother, Thelma Cates. These are both simple country women, with Jessie being the quieter and less demonstrative and Thelma being more talkative.

Jessie is around 40, epileptic, divorced with a son who is turning into a criminal. She sees her life as lacking in the positive and feels that i
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Thomas
Man, it has been a long time since I posted anything here. Initially I couldn't remember my password.
I Bought and read this play yesterday. I saw this in 87 as a film starring Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft. Unfortunately it isn't available on DVD- I would love to see it again.
My Mom watched it with me, and literally couldn't sit down- she kept running out of the room like we had on a horror movie as the tension built and built in this amazingly well structured play.
That was the same way I read
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Neil Schleifer
This play presents an amazing debate on personal autonomy -- our right to do what we will with our own lives. A woman who has felt abandoned, ignored, physically ill and of no particular use to herself or her family spends one last night with her elderly mother as she prepares to kill herself. Her mother tries every method from begging to logic to try to get her to change her mind.

The play, presented in real-time, is gripping. Norman is a powerful writer. She creates great, flawed characters and
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Carissa
‘Night Mother
Jessie is in her 30’s, and she has had a rough life. She suffers from epilepsy, she’s stuck at home taking care of her elderly mother, Thelma, and her son and husband are both M.I.A. The play takes place in real time as we follow the last evening of Thelma and Jessie together. What this play is really about is the relationship between mother and daughter, and whether or not a person has a right to choose the time and manner of their own death. The main issues of the play are suicide
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Jamie
"That's what this is about. It's somebody I lost, all right, it's my own self. Who I never was. Or who I tried to be and never got there. Somebody I waited for who never came. And never will. So, see, it doesn't much matter what else happens in the world or in this house, even. I'm what was worth waiting for and I didn't make it. Me... who might have made a difference to me... I'm not going to show up, so there's no reason to stay, except to keep you company, and that's... not reason enough beca ...more
Justin
I once began this play while attending college, and for some inexplicable reason that I cannot even now recall, I couldn't even finish the play...I just didn't like it; I put it down, quietly chalked it up to another pass-over, and that was that. Maybe I lacked the focus, the temerity to understand its impact, I don't know...but flash forward four years later, and I now feel that I understand the play's power, its scope. Though not a perfect tragedy, it is well written, intimate, and humanely fl ...more
Joanie
Years ago I saw part of the movie version of this play starring Sissy Spasek and Anne Bancroft. Just the little bit I watched has stayed with me after a good 20 years or so.

'night Mother is a play about a woman named Jessie who tells her mother she has decided to commit suicide. Jessie lists out her reasons and her mother tries to get her to change her mind. The dialog is painful and harrowing and packs quite a punch. If reading this had such an impact on me I can only imagine what it must have
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Natasha Whyte
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Jay
I haven't read this play in over 30 years probably. I remember reading it in high school and being devastated by it, from the first page until the last line. But in my mind, it had grown gimmicky and I thought it probably wasn't nearly as good as I'd remembered. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Best play of the 1980s probably. The structure is simple and brilliant. Two characters, 90 minutes, and we know how the play will end within the first few minutes. How on Earth could that work? But it just does.
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Donnell
I'd always thought this play was about a woman who was, in a sense, driven to suicide by a narcissistic mother--i.e. a mother who could not "see" the daughter as a separate person with separate, valid, thoughts and feelings.

Actually the play is about a daughter who simply announces to the mother, early on, that she will be committing suicide later in the evening. And the reason? She is bored with her life and the world is a mess just look at Red China (circa 1980).

I wonder if the daughter would
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Amber
I was assigned this play for a scene in my acting class, and I really enjoyed it. I hadn't heard of Norman before or this play, and I didn't know what to expect. I thought that the characters were extremely memorable and different physically as well as mentally. The dialogue does not get boring, and there are constant moments when mistakes in conversation are made - just like we make in our lives. I don't want to give anything away, but I'll say this: Nothing in this play is perfect, and the fac ...more
Jessie
I read this because I am ironically doing a scene as the character Jessie Cate and I greatly appreciate this book not only for existing but also being the piece I would have an opportunity to read from. Marsha Norman creates the MOST natural dialogue I have ever viewed and her writing does not belittle the interests of her characters or the subject matter of her play. I'm trying to say articulately that I believed her characters could be people and that Mama and Jessie really did have a relation ...more
Irene
I have been fascinated by this story since I was just a little girl . It asks a lot of pertinent questions forcing the reader to think about things we usually push away to the back of our minds although one day we will have to face them anyway. It 's also just such a major tear jerker and so suspenseful too. I do love this one. Reading it as an adult was much different for me as it was when I was 10 years of age but still, I recall the same feelings and the same questions being raised in my own ...more
Marc Kohlman
This was definitely one of the most heart-wrenching plays I have ever read. This was a morbid and depressing story, but nonetheless very well written. Read this for my college Feminism class for the play focuses on the first criteria of Gynocriticism, the mother-daughter relationship between Jessie and her mother. I sympathized greatly with Jessie's character. She suffered from epilepsy and extended depression and is ashamed of her own son- which causes her to look at life negatively without hop ...more
Aryn O'Connor
Wow, this play is just incredible. The subject matter is completely heart-wrenching and provides a commentary on human mortality that leaves you feeling as desperate as Mama to stay alive. With only two characters, it would seem pretty easy to identify with one more than the other but I find myself sympathetic to both making the ending that much more difficult to deal with. Really just a wonderfully written piece and something I would definitely recommend.

Eric
This may be the most personal, intensely-gripping, emotionally-charged, and heart-wrenching stage play I've viewed. We watch as an increasingly desperate mother attempts to prevent her thoroughly suicide-convicted daughter from killing herself.

Norman creates a scenario practically beyond emotion and comprehension, and then forces her characters to walk through it together. I wouldn't be surprised if she thought of the concept, and then sat down to see how the play would pan out. I've read it, a
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Dave Logghe
Totally gripping from the introduction of the conflict up to its resolution. I loved the ebb and flow of it all, it would have been so easy to ride one emotional wave to the end, but the different tempos and atmospheres made it so much more interesting. After reading the final paragraph, I just sat there for a couple minutes and let it all wash over me.
Justin
Much of the play felt amateurishly calculated and redundant. The integration of the characters' history through dialogue was clumsily cobbled between spurts of the mother's protests and felt canned. The writing almost seems like an acting exercise of clear objectives and tactics that would be useful for scene work except it carries on for too long to remain interesting. The tactics and literary devices are so unsubtle the play reads like an amateur trying to write a play about suicide but only d ...more
Sara
I hate to always relate books to movies, but the movie adaptation with Sissy Spacek does an amazing job of capturing what I remember most about this play. It's certainly not an uplifting read, but it's not exactly depressing either. Even though you know the ending from the very beginning, it's truly the journey that becomes all the more important, and the dialogue throughout between mother and daughter is spectacular. Sometimes, in watching a play, you're aware that the actors are reciting lines ...more
Lisa
I watched this movie during a training for being a crisis counselor and when I saw the book at a library sale recently, I picked it up.

It's hardly a cheery way to pass an hour, but it is beautiful and well done.
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Marsha Norman is an American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist. She received the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play 'night, Mother. She wrote the book and lyrics for such Broadway musicals as The Secret Garden, for which she won a Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical, and The Red Shoes, as well as the libretto for the musical The Color Purple.
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“I'm just not having a very good time and I don't have any reason to think it'll get anything but worse. I'm tired. I'm hurt. I'm sad. I feel used.” 41 likes
“Mama, I know you used to ride the bus. Riding the bus and it’s hot and bumpy and crowded and too noisy and more than anything in the world you want to get off and the only reason in the world you don’t get off is it’s still fifty blocks from where you’re going? Well, I can get off right now if I want to, because even if I ride fifty more years and get off then, it’s the same place when I step down to it. Whenever I feel like it, I can get off. As soon as I’ve had enough, it’s my stop. I’ve had enough.” 18 likes
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