Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Review: Mother Courage and Her Children

Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht
National Theatre, SE1

Ma Courage Struts Her Stuff

First time ever to see this Brecht classic. Mother Courage (Fiona Shaw) less a representation of maternal courage than a would-be profiteer, an obliviously harmful whirlwind, unevenly revealing and suppressing her motherly instinct for children who could just as well be three war orphans picked up on the way. Costumed from 18th century rock-chick bustle via other conflict fashion to a final clinical 21st century boilersuit, Mother Courage sashays behind the lines, accompanied by dreadlocked singer and band. In keeping with Brecht’s theory of distancing (I assume) there’s raucous noise, yelling, some over miked singing and narration and a lot of hammering home of messages.  TLT did wonder if the production would have been a more powerful frayed tapestry with a few less dischordant chords revealing more of the text and plot threads. So, as hit and miss as Mother Courage’s attempt to profit from war (bearing in mind TLT saw a work-in-progress preview). Just about an amber light acquired taste from TLT for a non clock-watching experience while the audience gave it a standing ovation green but several empty seats after the two-hour first act and interval indicated some might see red ... :o

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