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'night, Mother

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,193 Ratings  ·  164 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 i
Paperback, 96 pages
Published August 1st 1983 by Hill and Wang (first published 1983)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 19, 2014 Eve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, read-2014
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
Jan 19, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This brilliant Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Marsha Norman examines the conflict between the will to survive and the choice not to. The original Broadway production made a star of Kathy Bates as the suicidal woman who spends an evening preparing her mother for her departure. This is a riveting script.
Apr 07, 2012 Kristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 28, 2008 Bryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I would give to have seen the Kathy Bates production.
Jun 02, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
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
Jul 16, 2012 Cat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review seen here:

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
C.V. Nór
Jun 02, 2016 C.V. Nór rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes, you don't know who to feel sorry for. Powerfully written, excellent dialogue, 'Night Mother is a magnificent play of redemption, with one of the most iconic and powerful endings in the history of drama, redolent of a House of Dolls. The first time I read this play, I was in High School, and I never forgot it, except for conversation details. It starts with Jessie, a woman who peacefully decides she wants to die, and who in her last day makes sure her mother is in better domestic shape ...more
Nomadic SA Chick's Book Reviews

Jessie is tired. She's tired of her life, of disappointment, or heart-aches, and fight. Jessie wants to die. Recently divorced, Jessie has moved back in with her widowed mother, along with her wild-child teenage son. On a lonely night, Jessie shares her death plan with her mother, and there begins the play as her mother tries everything she can to get Jessie to change her mind.

This play left me speechless. Norman did a great job writing on such a heavy
Sep 10, 2008 Paula rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2012 Ginger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2012 Booknblues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 13, 2008 Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
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
Neil Schleifer
Aug 15, 2010 Neil Schleifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
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
‘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
Radwa Mahmoud
Undoubtedly ,I can say that this play is special on many levels.
I actually finished it and loved it! , I didn't finish a thing and love it since so long.
This is the second play I study in my curriculum and love it so much! It reminded me why did I love literature.
It returned my reading passion.
I almost highlighted ALL the lines.

I want to see the play acted on the stage.

J. Danielle Dorn
"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
Nov 14, 2011 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 29, 2016 Joelle rated it really liked it
I read this for class and wasn't going to count it because it's a play (and it's so short), but I decided to anyway. Very haunting and sad!
Feb 02, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mother and her adult daughter discuss and debate a variety of topics ahead of the daughter’s planned suicide later that evening.

This 1983 winner for the Pulitzer is two talking heads, but it works beautifully. I’m of the opinion that the Pulitzer committee recognizes entirely too many plays about dysfunctional families for the sole purpose of being plays about dysfunctional families, but ‘night Mother is a welcome exception to the rule (mostly because the focus is on something other than the
Natasha Whyte
Feb 01, 2015 Natasha Whyte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Jay
Jul 21, 2014 David Jay rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 24, 2014 Donnell rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 21, 2014 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2015 Brendan rated it really liked it
This is a way of telling stories that is difficult to do successfully: one continuous scene. No cuts, no breaks, just a direct story told over 90 minutes. After the beginning set-up there is only one way this story can end, but Norman does a great job pulling you in for 90 minutes as you try and figure out why...what led to this point. I think it might have touched me a little more because my own mother had recently moved in with my grandmother and then passed away. Watching my grandmother's gri ...more
Nov 14, 2014 Jessie rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 29, 2016 Lizzy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ironically, I've been feeling a little down lately, and was trying to find something to read to take my mind off things (plays are good for that). I did not know what to expect when I started reading this play (beyond that it's an acclaimed drama), so it was quite an emotional gut punch!

It's easy to relate to both Mama and Jessie, as both are sympathetic characters, with understandable flaws and beliefs. I've been in both of their shoes before (trying to talk someone out of wanting to commit sui
Irene Mcintyre
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
Jul 20, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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2015 Reading Chal...: 'Night, Mother by Marsha Norman 3 23 Dec 23, 2015 06:32PM  
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  • Company: A Musical Comedy
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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.” 44 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.” 21 likes
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