PETA’s ‘night, Mother: Theater Review

‘night, Mother is an American play created by Marsha Norman that won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for best play.- It is now being adapted in the Philippines by PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) as their 50th season ender. Adapted by Ian Lomongo, directed by Melvin Lee and starring Eugene Domingo as Jessie and Sherry Lara as Thelma, this Philippine adaptation was intended to fit the world of the Philippines in 2017. It’s an emotional two woman piece with a runtime of 90 minutes that doesn’t have a song at the end.

The plot:

A supposedly normal evening in the mother-daughter household is shattered when Jessie announces to her mother Thelma that she plans to kill herself before the night is over. The play happens in real time. Over the course of 90 minutes, Thelma desperately works to convince her daughter that life is worth living.

Scenic Design


The set was simple yet effective. They created a simple set that mimics the typical Filipino household that is sliced right in the middle for the audience to eavesdrop on the personal story that unfolds. Some parts of the roof are damaged but the two main parts of the set which are the living room and the kitchen are intricately detailed. Kudos to Ben Padero, the production designer who was able to craft hyper realistic set with actual water running down the faucet.

Sound Design

The sound is absolutely immersive. Right before the show starts, you will hear ambient sounds of the night complete with crickets chirping on the background and the susurrus of moving air. There are moments in the play wherein Jessie would monologue about her feelings which would be backed up by a sorrowful track to further accentuate Eugene Domingo’s performance. The voices of the actresses can be heard edge to edge from the first to the second floor.  All the ambient and accentuating sounds were the works of TJ Ramos who bagged awards for Outstanding Sound Design in the Gawad Buhay Awards of 2015.

Story


The story has a dark theme all throughout but is infused with dark humour to lighten the mood of the audience. The comedy hits hard at some points but I don’t wether I should laugh or feel sorry for the character at certain times. The structure of the story itself is a simple narrative that examines the two main characters as to how they came to this point in their lives. Stories about their past lives are exchanged through dialogue and we get to have a better understanding of how their character arcs are formed. Fearing that her daughter Jessie would push through with her planned suicide, we see her mother Thelma parenting her child while also being mothered by Jessie. She is constantly trying to understand her daughter’s thoughts to unravel the reasoning behind. A lot of affairs and medical information are revealed much later which tests our main characters’ strength to comprehend as well as compromise.

Acting

The two main stars of the show which are Eugene Domingo and Sherry Lara are amazing in their respective roles. Eugene Domingo is able to prove once again that she is more than just a comedic actress. In this performance, you feel the bitterness that she felt throughout her life. She plans to take her life as well as plan the future of her mother. You see the genuine emotion that Eugene Domingo conveys and you feel that life really teared her entire being apart. Sherry Lara is amazing as the mother Thelma. You feel for her as she tries to persuade her daughter not to waste her life away. Her character struggles are revealed throughout the story with her strength and optimism also slowly dissolving. Both are complex characters that are pushed into their breaking points in just one room with no action sequences.


Overall

I liked the play. It explores the characters well, the set design is remarkable, and the acting is amazing. It achieves all of this without the help of a song or dance number and it doesn’t need to be grandiose. It is certainly worth the price of admission.

PETA’s ‘night, Mother gets an 8/10

‘night, Mother is showing from February 2 to Mar 18, 2018. 

Specific show dates :

February 2, 8pm

February 9, 8pm

February 10, 3pm

February 10, 8pm

February 11, 3pm 

February 11, 8pm 

February 16, 8pm

February 17, 3pm 

February 17, 8pm 

February 18, 3pm 

February 18, 8pm 

February 23, 8pm

February 24, 3pm 

February 24, 8pm 

February 25, 3pm 

February 25, 8pm 

March 3, 3pm 

 Read more about ‘night, Mother here:

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