Mother Courage And Her Children
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.