Just Opened: 'Night, Mother

A review of CoHo Productions' season opener.

Do not enter Coho Theater for 'Night, Mother expecting to be anything but emotionally wrecked. Marsha Norman's Pulitzer-winning drama centers on the aging Thelma, content with watching TV for the rest of her days, and Jessie, the 30-something divorced daughter who cares meticulously for her, right down to filling her candy jar each night. The play opens with a sudden and shocking profession from Jessie: She plans to kill herself by the end of the evening. The next 90 minutes follow the conversations between a daughter so determined to leave and a mother coming to terms with why.

Jacklyn Maddux deftly captures Thelma’s confusion and heartbreak, with alternately sly and sharp reactions. “Very funny,” she says. Or: “You’re acting like some little brat.” But also: “Don’t leave me.” Dana Millican offers an equally strong performance as Jessie, shifting from solemnly determined to calmly logical to raw and emotional. Expect your allegiances and empathy to rock from side to side, and for the conflict to leave you feeling deeply unsettled. Gavin Hoffman, in an excellent directorial debut, focuses more on emotion than on what’s right or wrong. It all makes for an uncomfortable and absorbing look into an everyday relationship, and one that is likely to make for a very quiet ride home from the theater. 

SEE IT: 'Night, Mother is at the CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., 220-2646. 7:30 pm Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 pm Sundays through Nov. 8. $15-$25. Tickets here.