Review: ‘Night Seasons’ at Quotidian Theatre Company

Horton Foote, the Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of hundreds of plays for stage and screen, was known as the American Chekhov.

As such, his work is a perfect choice for The Quotidian Theatre. In fact, Ben Brantley, in his 1994 review of Night Seasons–then having its New York premiere, some 20 years after the play was written–uses the word “quotidian” to describe the play.

Carolyn Kashner as Laura Lee Weems, Laura Russell as Delia Weems, David Dubov as Thurman Weems, and Timothy Ziese as Mr. Barsoty. Photo by Steve LaRocque.

And “quotidian” it is. Night Seasons, now having its DC premiere, is a play about the ordinary intersections in daily life and the choices that are sometimes inadvertently made.

Like many of Foote’s plays, this one is set in a small town in East Texas where members of a multi-generational family gossip, quarrel about money and betray each other in ways large and small.  The family is dominated by a matriarch named Josie Weems.

Although the play is set on Josie’s 93rd birthday, it spans a period of 40 years–from 1923 to 1963–through a series of flashbacks. Most of the action centers on  Laura Lee Weems, the unhappy daughter, known as “Sister” to her parents and siblings.

The gist of the story is that Laura Lee–unlike her cousins or her brothers–cannot leave. In thrall to a mother who demands obedience, she remains locked into a life where marriage seems to be the only way out. However, all the suitors, one by one, have disappeared.

Carolyn Kashner. Photo by Steve LaRocque.

The role of the emotionally stunted daughter is played by Carolyn Kashner. So paralyzed is she by her mother’s control that she rarely fights back. And when she does–deciding to buy a house and live on her own–she is quickly defeated.

Jane Squier Bruns plays the role of the mother, a woman so arrogant and self-centered that she cannot admit to any fault at all. In fact, she can’t understand her daughter’s complaints and…

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