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The Will to Live and Die in ‘Night Mother

Eugene Domingo plays her most intense role as a suicidal daughter

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By Rica Arevalo

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The opening scene shows Jessie (Eugene Domingo) asking her mother, Thelma (Sherry Lara) for her father’s gun as “protection.”  She then blurts that tonight will be her last night and gives her mother last-minute instructions on how to live alone if she is gone.

“Ma, papasok ako sa kwarto at magla-lock para hindi ka maging suspect (Mom, I will go inside my room and lock it so you will not be a suspect),” says Jessie as she attempts to end her life.

Suicide should never be an option but in PETA’s adaptation of Marsha Norman’s ‘Night Mother, it is. The Pulitzer Prize winning drama is adapted by Ian Lomongo and directed by Melvin Lee.

Jessie has lost her zest for life—separated from her husband, suffering from epileptic seizures, and leading what she thought was a miserable life.

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If you’re familiar with the comedy flicks of Domingo, you will see her in a different light. ‘Night Mother shows her powerful, intense, and quiet dramatic flair as an actress. “The play has irony and a sense of humor,” says this UP Diliman Theater Arts major. “This is so different from Kimmy and Dora and Eugene Domingo in Septic Tank. People can relate to the emotions, conflicts, and realization of Jessie because we all experienced this state.”

The 46-year-old actress muses, “Jessie looks weak but she is not. Malakas at isang taong nakapag desisyon at isang taong marunong tumanggap kung kelan tapos na ang dapat matapos.(She is strong with her decision and knows when her final curtain would be).”

Domingo’s first love is theater. “As much as I have respect for TV and movies, I cannot compare them. There is a feeling of fulfillment when I do theater.”

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She seldom acts in movies anymore. “Hindi na po ako masyadong gumagawa ng pelikula. Tatapatin ko na po kayo, mas mahal ko po talaga itong entablado (I seldom make films. I have to be honest and tell you I love theatre more),” shares the Manila-born actress.

She tells us her early influences. “As a child, I really liked watching TV from morning to night. I really like listening to radio dramas.  I copy my teachers,” says the Celebrity Bluff host. “My gift is to mimic people and to observe people and remember emotions, to show different dramas, and comedies of life by performing.”

In PETA’s Bona, she played the role of Nora Aunor, where she won Best Actress during the 25th Aliw Awards. “Most of the time, pag iniisip ko nasa theater ako, parang kaya ko gawin ito habang buhay (I can live doing theatre all my life),” confesses the 2013 Tokyo International Best Actress winner for Barber’s Tales. ‘Yun nga lang dapat nakapag ipon na ako ng malaki (I just have to save a lot of money to survive).”

The play has no intermission, with 90 minutes of bargaining between Thelma and Jessie not to pursue the ill-fated plan. The audience feels like they are part of the neighborhood watching the two actresses weigh the pros and cons of living and dying.

“I don’t want them to be sad. I want them to think that we should avoid that. We should always give ourselves a chance and to embrace life,” she claims.

“We should always have faith that life is good,” preaches Domingo. “It is always a matter of love and embracing love. Let’s open ourselves to love.”

The two actresses were so superb in their roles that some people in the audience believed that Domingo was undergoing depression. “Hinding hindi po ako si Jessie. Masaya po ako. Masaya po ang lovelife ko,” Domingo laughs. “Gandang ganda po ako sa sarili ko!”

PETA’s ‘Night, Mother runs until March 18, 2018 at the PETA Theater Center, No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City. For show buying and ticket inquiries, contact PETA Marketing and PR Office at 63 927 603 5913 or Ticket World at 02 891 9999.

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