Mother Courage and her children, Sept.6th, ’14

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Seana McKenna is god. No other words. Go, bow at her feet. She’s tiny, but such a terrific, terrifying powerhouse on stage! 
Geraint wyn davies does what he does best: be an incredible charmer with his instincts set on survival. 
The translation is spot on, riveting. The direction by the great Martha Henry is amazing,following Brecht’s intentions but unique.
It’s an amazing production AND this time I mustered up the nerve to actually talk to Seana McKenna without losing my nerve at the last minute. She’s this diminutive unassuming woman whose laugh lines around her eyes have more talent than half of Hollywood combined. 

At the beginning all the actors come out to chat with the audience, they mingle – we’re all of a sudden all part of the play. Then mother courage and her three children come on stage. They drag a cart from one battlefield to the next, catering soldiers and selling and buying. And there is always a battlefield somewhere – it’s the time of the war between protestants and Catholics and it will go on for 30 long years. Mother courage – Anna Fielding – is not worried. She lives off the war. But then one of her sons runs off to become a hero and with his almost childlike, unthinking brutality he is a perfect soldier. Her second son is crafted and made a purser, but when a battle is lost, he tries to protect the bataillon’s money. It is then he falls into the hands of the enemy. And even though Anna is prepared to buy him out, she starts to haggle – and her son is shot. Now she, her dumb and mute daughter drag the cart alone, with the help of a priest in disguise. They survive the war for a long time until one day her long lost hero son does something heroic, but it’s a brief period of peace… and he gets shot for killing a woman when he stole her chicken.

The cook is back and together Anna, her daughter and Pieter struggle on. It’s winter and the cook wants a home with Anna. His mother left him an inn. They could live there – without the girl. And so he’s sent packing.

Alone with her daughter. The war drags on. They find shelter in a barn, as suddenly soldiers arrive. They want to raid the nearby town, in which Anna is selling stuff. Her daughter, trying to protect the children in the town, hits a drum to alert the villagers. She succeeds, but gets shot.

And now Anna is all alone, dragging her cart, becoming a hyena of the war, as it’s the only thing left in her life.

I found it remarkable that the polemic in Brecht’s text was somehow toned down in the excellent translation. Overheard in the theatre: well, that word (I think she referred to shit) wasn’t used in those times… And I asked myself, what times she meant? The 30 year war in the 17th century (where lewdness was far more common than nowadays) or the time after the second world war when Brecht wrote this play. LOLOL


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