A devastating exploration of love, quiet savagery and chocolate, Iron Lung Theatre presents ‘night, Mother by much-loved American playwright Marsha Norman at Chapel Off Chapel for a limited season from 7 August 2019.
A Doll’s House for the 20th century, ‘night, Mother reveals the story of a woman whose threatened suicide serves as a metaphor for self-determination and whose onstage presence ends with a door closing irrevocably on her old life.
On an ordinary Saturday night Jessie tells her mother, ‘I’m going to kill myself’. Unfolding in real time over 90 minutes a domesticated apocalypse reveals itself in the quiet suburban living room of a needle-point cosy home. As the clock ticks down to the gripping conclusion … is there time for one night of absolute honesty before it’s too late? Two women … one gun … and a cup of cocoa. Who will win?
Set in a semi-urbanised environment, Iron Lung’s production of ‘night, Mother begins like an Edward Hopper painting come to life. Light breaths across the space as dusk passes and evening settles in, bringing with it dramatic shadows that could be waiting for the end of days, contrasted strongly with angular pools of bright light full of hope for a fulfilling future.
Norman excels at writing about ‘invisible’ people and bringing their stories to the light, where audiences see a reflection of themselves. This production invites us to consider what it means to live on the edge of society with no clear identity.
A cataclysmic confession upends a well rehearsed parent-child relationship – dragging intergenerational trauma and secret family history kicking and screaming to centre stage. Jessie wants to use her last minutes to learn more about her mother, unwittingly unearthing dark truths from their past.
Mother Thelma wants to employ every idea to keep Jessie alive – not knowing her efforts could be pushing Jessie further out of reach. What does it mean when the familial dance and mother-daughter rhythm is now so profoundly out of step? This not-to-be missed production depicts a woman finding her power in a very different fashion.
A contemporary classic performed the world over, ‘night, Mother features two tour-de-force roles for women. Past Broadway productions have starred powerhouse actors Kathy Bates, Brenda Blethyn and Edie Falco. The 1986 screen adaptation starred Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft. Directed by Briony Dunn, four-time Green Room award winner Caroline Lee and Iron Lung co-Artistic Director and NIDA graduate Esther van Doornum will star in this production.
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. Her plays include Getting Out, Traveller in the Dark, Third and Oak, The Laundromat and Loving Daniel Boone.
Director: Briony Dunn Featuring: Caroline Lee, Esther van Doornum Production Manager: Julia Landberg Set & Costume Design: Juliette Whitney Lighting Design: Clare Springett
The Loft – Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Season: 7 – 17 August 2019
For more information, visit: www.ironlungtheatre.com for details.
Image: ‘night, Mother – photo by Josh Wayn