PLAY OF THE WEEK War is hell, says Brecht. So tell us what we don’t know

The Jewish Chronicle - - Arts&entertainment -

na­ture of war waged to­day, I can­not get rid of the nag­ging feel­ing that the play which is most rel­e­vant to now, and to the par­tic­u­lar con­di­tion of liv­ing in the 21st cen­tury while our coun­try’s army fights and dies in re­mote and dis­tant lands, has yet to be writ­ten.

There have been some bold at­tempts by play­wright Si­mon Stephens, while the Tri­cy­cle The­atre’s Afghanistan sea­son also looked at how what hap­pens to peo­ple over there af­fects peo­ple over here — or fails to.

That said, even though cir­cum­stances of war change, the moral ques­tions do not, and Tony Kush­ner’s new trans­la­tion of Mother Courage, and Deborah Warner’s whirligig pro­duc­tion with its mod­ern dress and weaponry, feels very mod­ern.

The bare-bones stag­ing an­nounces scenes and lo­ca­tions with home-made sur­titles writ­ten on gi­ant sheets low­ered from the flies. Tech­ni­cians with head­sets stand aloof from the action un­til they are needed for a spot of prop-mov­ing — in ac­cor­dance with the Brechtian aim of re­veal­ing the­atri­cal ar­ti­fice in­stead of hid­ing it. Yet in the mo­ments when grief strikes Shaw’s quick-wit­ted Mother Courage, noth­ing could feel more real.

The mo­ment where she pre­tends not to recog­nise the dead body of one of her sons so that the sol­diers who killed him do not know of her con­nec­tion, is dev­as­tat­ing. Shaw de­liv­ers it with a se­ries of heart-break­ing ex­pres-

Fiona Shaw’s Mother Courage veers dan­ger­ously close to Rod Ste­wart

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.