Susan Jackson has given us a play set in North Carolina that examines how we cope with loss and love- and letting go. It touches on what it is that brings us joy and humanizes us. Death Be Not Loud opens with a poignant monologue delivered by Diana Brown as Red. She is visiting mother’s gravesite in early fall, in a small town in North Carolina. Rendered with both humor and sadness, Red comes off as a non-believer, yet she shows respect for her mother’s devotion-behind her impatience- as she reminisces about their life as though her mother were still alive. We then look into Marion’s life. Set in her living room in Charlotte. Marion, a single woman (played by Susan Jackson), opens up about her own life in which she has suffered betrayal as well as losses, yet has experienced love. We revisit Red at the gravesite and Marion again in her living room in late fall.
When the divisive pastor of Red’s mother’s church dies, Red shows up for the funeral service and finds Marion there. Jackson’s clever conceit of bringing these two women together – who otherwise may never have met- in a funeral home works brilliantly. That we learn why Marion would attend a funeral for someone she didn’t know, is heartfelt as Marion reveals the depth of her loneliness. Red and Marion discover- over martinis Marion has smuggled in- that they have a lot in common.
Jackson captures her characters and renders them believable through well-written dialogue, making them true to life. Diana Brown and Susan Jackson, co-founders of the Southern Railroad Theatre Company, and co-producers of the play, have good ears for timing and pacing in their phrasing. They have collaborated in more ways than one for many years. Under Wesley Cayabyab’s skilled direction, Red and Marion come alive, leaving us no doubt that they are real women.
DEATH BE NOT LOUD is presented by Southern Railroad Theatre Company, 3Girls Theatre Company, and Entropy Productions. Thursday, Fridays & Saturdays @ 8PM, Sundays @ 2PM through November 18. At the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street. Tickets at Eventbrite.com