Taboo topics come to the fore in this 80s play that won a Pulitzer Prize

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Nutz-n-Boltz Theater Artistic Director Kelly Lazenby, left, and Kim Berger portray the damaged relationship between daughter Jessie and mother Thelma Cates in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Play, Night, Mother by Marsha Norman.In "‘Night, Mother," the Pulitzer Prize-winning play coming later this month to the Nutz-n-Boltz Theater stage in Boring, playwright Marsha Norman asks some pointed questions.

What should a mother do when her daughter calmly says she intends to end her life before morning?

This is a parent’s worst nightmare. The damaged relationship between this mother and daughter does not help it come to a positive end.

Life is full of specific reasons to be depressed, but when several come to roost in Jessie’s family, the young woman feels like it is too much to handle.

The dilemma her mother (Thelma Cates) faces is to find a way to convince her daughter that life is worth living — but mom isn’t able to feel her daughter’s pain. The two women represent middle-class America, a place where the topic of suicide is not discussed openly.

The two actors, Kim Berger of West Linn and Kelly Lazenby of Gresham, play the show in real time, with no intermission.

Lazenby says this complex drama, the first show of the 2013 season, explores subjects that are difficult to talk about, such as family dysfunction, mother-daughter relations, illness, depression, suicide and death.

She says these topics are best explored on a stage.

“The reason theater exists (besides entertainment) is to open up discussion and dialogue for the audience,” Lazenby said. “This is one of those plays that is talked about all the way home.”

Lazenby says this play is a “thriller and a cliffhanger to the very end.” The dilemma: In less than two hours, can a mother talk down a seriously depressed daughter who has calmly threatened suicide?

For the first time, Nutz-n-Boltz will hold talk-back discussions with the actors after each Sunday performance.

“Ask what it was like to perform such a complex and layered story,” Lazenby said.

The Nutz-n-Boltz Theater will present '''Night, Mother" at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, Feb. 22 to March 10, at the historic Boring-Damascus Grange Hall in downtown Boring. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door and at

For more information, call 503-593-1295 or visit the website at

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