Mother Courage And Her Children
Fiona Shaw’s Mother Courage dominates the Olivier stage. Whatever ambivalence may be implied by Brecht about her moral choices, Shaw’s embodiment of the 17th-century merchant matriarch, the ultimate survivor, is so life-affirming as to demand admiration. It is a stunning performance which finds the complexity of Brecht’s most famous creation – while denying acquaintance with her mutilated son Swiss Cheese to save herself and her daughter, her face shows anguish, resignation, pragmatism and defiance all at once.
The outstanding innovation of Deborah Warner’s delayed but exuberant production, in which technicians and costume changes remain in full view, is the music of Duke Special. Dreadlocks flying, he leads his band vocally and on the piano in songs which, softer than Weill, transmit something of the mixture of emotion and sardonic objectivity which are the hallmarks of this modern take on Brecht.