Diana Brown and Susan Jackson as Red and Marion respectively work hard in Death Be Not Loud!, but to what end? Browns’ Red spends two scenes in direct address, ostensibly to her dead mom. She has a lot of anger, which she directs at her two lousy brothers, who never visited mom when she was sick, at the various lousy health care workers at mom’s nursing home, who didn’t pay enough attention to her, and at mom’s lousy so-called friends, who never came to see her in the nursing home.
Red spends the remainder of her time with her mom’s headstone reminiscing about the last three years of mom’s life, in which they spent their time reminiscing about other portions of their life together, in particular about the death of Red’s dad. In short, Red spends most of her time on stage remembering the dead and snarling at the living.
Jackson’s Marion also spends much of her time in direct address, in this instance to ex-husband Frank, a Judge and a bigamist. Frank is not in the room at the time, but we are. She spends much of her time excoriating Frank for marrying another woman a year after he married Marion. She goes down a list of his deceptions, or a gesture at such a list, including “trains” and unexplained business trips (a little implausible, since a Judge’s whereabouts are generally a matter of public record.)
Death Be Not Loud!
Written by Susan Jackson
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In the final scene, they meet during the funeral of one of mom’s old friends. (“Ding, dong, the witch is dead,” hums Red, who found this friend insufficiently invested in mom’s decline). There, they engage in a conversation so tedious and self-pitying that had you heard it in a restaurant, you would have asked for another table.
There is a world of potential in this story, and Brown and Jackson are two actors who could deliver it. A play about an elderly woman in a nursing home? It’s been done, but Jackson the playwright could add some insight. A play about a woman addicted to anger and mean-spiritedness? I’d pay to see that. A story about a Judge who maintained two households for 24 years without being caught? A little National Inquirer, but it could be right interesting. But this, sadly, is none of those. It’s two people talking about things we should be seeing.
Death be not Loud! by Susan Jackson . Directed by Wesley Cayabyab . Featuring Diana Brown and Susan Jackson . Production Manager, Stacy Marshall . Sound design, Wesley Cayabyab and Diana Brown . Produced by Southern Railroad Theatre Company . Reviewed by Tim Treanor.