TUPELO • In many homes, denial and silence are ways families sometime deal with uncomfortable subjects. They pretend nothing is wrong or refuse to acknowledge it.

When depression and despair set in, they could lead to unfortunate events that shatter the family. Such is the case for a mother and a daughter whose story will be played out next week on Tupelo Community Theatre’s Off Broadway stage.

“’night, Mother,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, will be performed Nov. 21-23 at Off Broadway. TCT actresses Jennifer Cummings and Haley Johnson perform the only roles in the production directed by Tom Booth.

The play, written by American playwright Marsha Norman, won the 1983 Pulitzer for Drama and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play.

Johnson plays Jessie Cates, a woman who contemplates suicide because she feels she’s failed in everything – work, relationships, health and being a mother. Jesse’s suicidal thoughts, Johnson said, have been building up for some time.

“It’s not a spur-of-the-moment decision,” she said. “It’s not like she woke up today and decided she wanted to commit suicide. She’s been thinking about it a long time.”

Jennifer Cummings plays Thelma Cates, the elderly mother who at first doesn’t take Jesse’s talk of killing herself seriously until Jessie finds her late father’s pistol. Together, they live by themselves in a simple home out in the country.

“The daughter pretty much takes care of the mother,” Cummings said. “They finish each other’s sentences. They know each other so well, a lot of things go without being said.”

The mother, however, has kept some information from her daughter, according to both Johnson and Cummings.

“They have problems that Momma doesn’t want to address or discuss them,” Johnson said. “She doesn’t know or is not aware of Jesse’s depression issues.”

Cummings adds, “There’s been some things the mother has kept back, but not in a malicious or mean way. She just thinks that’s the best thing she needs to do for her daughter. She’s doing her best she can to protect her.”

Even though the feeling of “ ’night, Mother” may be dark, Cummings said it’s not all gloom and doom.

“It’s not all depressing,” she said. “There are some light moments. They really love each other and care about each other.”

Performances each day start at 7:30. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and younger and are on sale now. For more information or to purchase tickets call the TCT office at (662) 844-1935.

bobby.pepper@journalinc.com TWITTER: @bobbypepper30

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