Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

'Night Mother Still Packs a Wallop at Odd Duck Studio

Also see David's reviews of My Fair Lady, Return to Paradise and The Addams Family

Danielle Daggerty and Bradetta Vine
Marsha Norman's terse and harrowing drama 'Night Mother, a worthy Pulitzer Prize Winner in 1983, shows that it has lost none of its emotional wallop in KTO Productions' new staging at Odd Duck Studio. Directed with finesse and clarity by Doug Knoop, the play is a genuine showcase for a pair of actresses, and Knoop's casting instincts are on the money, as Bradetta Vines and Danielle Daggerty hit all the right emotional chords.

On an evening that might be just like countless others, persnickety Thelma Cates (Vines), a fiftyish middle aged woman, faces the announcement from her grown, divorced daughter and housemate Jessie (Daggett) that the younger woman has elected to commit suicide that very evening. Thelma's disbelief quickly turns into desperation as she tries to understand what has brought her daughter to conclude that her life is not worth living. Years of regrets and recriminations are addressed, and Norman's adroit playwrighting skillfully keeps us in suspense until the closing moments, as to whether the act will actually occur.

Bradetta Vines gives a subtle, detailed heartfelt performance as a woman who, when it comes to it, would do anything in her power to keep her precious child with her, for as many selfish reasons as unselfish ones. Her Thelma is totally convincing, likable, yet not always a sympathetic figure, though a very real one. Daggerty is her match as the despairing, determined, would-be suicide, a woman whose disappointments and defeats have nearly sucked away a life force marked by a life-long struggle with chronic seizures. Together, the actresses easily convince us of their family ties and the cost of unbinding them. Knoop and his cast have created as gripping a 90 minutes as can be seen on any Seattle stage this fall. The all important scenic design of Thelma's living room is by Mad Dog Productions, and achieves in stark perfection the necessarily threadbare, lower middle-class environment crucial to the production's success.

'Night Mother runs through November 17, 2012, at the Odd Duck Studio, 1214 10th Ave on Seattle's Capitol Hill. Tickets $15-$12 and more information is available at

Photo: Michael Brunk/

- David Edward Hughes

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