When reading the script of the play 'night, Mother, Marsha Norman gives us information about the characters and the set before the dialogue even starts. There are only two characters in this play: Jessie and her mother Thelma. The action takes place in Thelma's house.
Norman provides a description of the characters for the actors to follow. She tells us "as a rule, Jessie doesn't feel much like talking." On the other hand, Thelma "speaks quickly and enjoys talking." This is one example of how the two characters are a foil to each other.
The relationship between Jessie and Thelma allows them to develop a back and forth banter. The play features dark humor, with comedic lines that break the tension of the serious subject matter. The two move from serious discussions of ending life to debating whether one can have dessert without dinner.
JESSIE: And I can't do anything either, about my life, to change it, make it better, make me feel better about it. Like it better, make it work. But I can stop it. shut it down, turn it off like the radio when there's nothing on I want to listen to. It's all I really have that belongs to me and I'm going to say what happens to it. And it's going to stop. And I'm going to stop it. So. Let's just have a good time.
MAMA: Have a good time.
JESSIE: We can't go on fussing all night. I mean, I could ask you things I always wanted to know and you could make me some hot chocolate. The old way.
MAMA: (in despair) It takes cocoa, Jessie.
JESSIE: (Gets it out of the cabinet.) I bought cocoa, Mama. And I'd like to have a caramel apple and do your nails.
MAMA: You didn't eat a bite of supper.
JESSIE: Does that mean I can't have a caramel apple?
MAMA: Of course not. I mean, (smiling a little) of course you can have a caramel apple.
Jessie preps for her suicide in a meticulous manner. She gathers all the materials, and keeps a list of what she needs to take care of before she does it. This is ironic, given that she is committing suicide because she feels like she doesn't have control over her life. Her death is something she can control.
The set shows the inside of the fairly new house: a cluttered living room, connecting kitchen, pull cord in the hallway signifying the entrance to an attic, and bedroom directly off the hall. The entrance to this bedroom
should be visible by everyone in the audience. It should be, in fact, the focal point of the entire set and the lighting should make it disappear completely at times and draw the entire set into it at others. It is a point of both threat and promise.
Another key note that Norman gives is about the time. She says that clocks should be present on the set and run during the show, starting at 8:15.