WILLIAMSVILLE—Rock River Players invites the community to experience ’night Mother by Marsha Norman on May 17-20 at the Williamsville Hall.
The scene is the living room/kitchen of a small house on an isolated country road, which is shared by Jessie and her mother. Jessie’s father is dead; she is epileptic and unemployable; her loveless marriage ended in divorce; her absent son is a petty thief and ne’er-do-well; her last two jobs failed and, in general, her life is stale and unprofitable.
As the play begins, Jessie asks for her father’s service revolver and calmly announces that she intends to kill herself. At first her mother refuses to take her seriously, but as Jessie sets about tidying the house and making lists of things to be looked after, her sense of desperate helplessness begins to build.
In the end, with the inexorability of genuine tragedy, she can only stand by, stunned and unbelieving, as Jessie quietly closes and locks her bedroom door.
As Rock River Players director Sara Vitale explained in a news release, “I want to convey a very specific message that suicide is illogical yet, in extreme cases, people can feel like it’s the only choice. I want to present how isolating ourselves from our support systems sets us up for disaster and explore how and why depression progresses to hopelessness.
“The idea is to counter the glamorization of suicide kids are being exposed to on shows like 13 Reasons Why. I’m approaching this with great sensitivity to the deeply triggering issues it may bring up for our audiences.”
To that end, the 10 a.m. student matinee on May 17 will have an alternate ending and post-show discussion.
The Rock River Players’ annual spring show features Heather Martell, an accomplished local actress, and Lisa Litchfield.
Litchfield, a first-time performer whose daughter has played myriad leading roles in a range of works from The Crucible to The Wizard of Oz with the Leland & Gray Players, has always had theater in her blood.
“She was a great asset as backstage ballast for countless productions and, as she watched [daughter] Alexa grow into a role, I could always sense that Lisa was priming for her own debut,” said former Leland & Gray Players’ director Annie Landenberger.
And that, Vitale adds, is what the Rock River Players is all about. “The chemistry and level of performance from these women floors me. This is why we stand by our commitment to work with people of any experience level,” Vitale said.