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Nov 16 2004
Kevin Johnson | Talkin'

Palm Beach Dramaworks is presenting their own rendition of 'night, Mother, coinciding with the Broadway revival. Veteran player Barbara Bradshaw and Dramaworks' managing chief Nanique Gheridian prove once again that we don't have to travel the road north when we have excellent performances right here in our own backyard. 'night, Mother is a play full of tactics and beats. Those fall mostly on the shoulders of the actor who plays Thelma, as she tries to convince her daughter not to take her life. Barbara Bradshaw rides those beats like a skilled equestrian on a thoroughbred. Her Thelma is a caring mother who tries to save her daughter. She tries every trick in the book: doting on Jessie, scolding Jessie, even screaming at her. Bradshaw is a rainbow of emotions making us pity Thelma, while also relating to her situation. On the flipside, Nanique Gheridian is a calculating force as Jessie. She shows the resonance without showing the resignation. She controls every nuance, keeping the explosions to a minimum - proof that actors can give good presentations without yelling every line. The seamless direction by William Hayes leaves the players to their own devices, letting them find their own chemistry. Bradshaw and Gheridian's energies bounce off each other like tennis balls. The players never slow down, keeping the audience involved until the finish. It helps that the set is balanced as well. Michael Amico has created a rural Southern home filled with down-to-earth charm and hospitality. Bernadette Simon's lighting sets a mood filled with ease and tension to blend in with the set. Palm Beach Dramaworks' version of 'night, Mother is raw and guttural, touching and distressing, heartfelt and disturbing. This is the way plays were meant to be made. While celebrating its fourth season, there is no doubt that Dramaworks will be in award contention again with 'night, Mother. I hope you can make it out to see it. The fine portrayals alone will be worth the trip.