Mother Courage And Her Chil­dren

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - THEATRE - Jo Knowsley

South­wark Play­house, Lon­don Un­til De­cem­ber 9, 3hrs 5mins

When Ber­tolt Brecht wrote this 17th-cen­tury-set an­ti­war drama about a woman who trawls the bat­tle­fields prof­it­ing from the spoils of war, he had long fled Nazi Ger­many and the fas­cism that was crush­ing the life out of Eu­rope. Yet this Mother Courage, as she drags her chil­dren through the Thirty Years War, seems just as rel­e­vant to­day.

Courage (Josie Lawrence, left with Phoebe Vigor) is a hyena of the bat­tle­field who sac­ri­fices even her own chil­dren for profit. Lawrence de­liv­ers a bru­tal blend of wit and poignancy with a seam­less dash of vaude­ville.

There are also pow­er­ful per­for­mances from David Shel­ley as the chap­lain strug­gling to re­dis­cover his moral com­pass, Laura Check­ley as whore­with-a-heart Yvette, and Vigor as Courage’s mute daugh­ter. Han­nah Chissick’s taut pro­duc­tion, with its in­ter­ro­ga­tion-style light­ing and stark set, is po­tent stuff.

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