Remember Mama is about family, that most universal element of life. The play is a story filled with the qualities that lift the spirit and make family life so cherished.
The play centers around the memories of Katrin, the oldest daughter. Katrin brings us the rich characters in her family in a series of flashbacks to her childhood. She is the writer of the family, and it is through her that we learn of her remarkable mother, Mama. Like all the adult family members in the play, Mama is a Norwegian immigrant.
Together Mama and Papa hold the values that have shaped this country. Work hard and get a good education. They are careful with their pennies and generous with their affection. They sacrifice for each other and in return enjoy the trust and admiration of their children.
Yet none of the characters are saccharine. Each is a fully realized being, showing love, humor, anger, sorrow, and wisdom. We see each member of the immediate and extended family in a series of episodes. At one time Mama devises a scheme to avoid a hospital rule that visitors are not allowed 24 hours after surgery. At another time Papa gives up his pipe tobacco to help pay for Nels' education and then feels guilty when he still has a few smokes left. Christine scolds her sister Katrin and reveals the secret that Mama sold her prized brooch to buy Katrin's graduation gift. Uncle Chris continually enjoys bullying the aunts, but has a tender spot for any child who is lame and needs medical attention. The aunts mind everyone's business. Katrin must feel the pain of reassessing her priorities to return the love of the woman who lights her world.
You may see yourself and your family tonight as you watch I Remember Mama.
by Tom Murphy