Mother Courage and her Children
Reviewed – 6th November 2017
“Lawrence articulates to the audience a character with steely determination and an innate inner strength”
Hailed by some as the best play of the last hundred years, I was excited to see this performance. The story follows a mother who is determined to make a living and protect her children through the barbaric Thirty Years’ War by any means available to her.
The scene is immediately set as you are led into the auditorium by ushers dressed as soldiers. The stage is a central walkway with seating on either side. As you enter, a boy is playing centre stage with toy soldiers alongside Barney George’s set of scaffolding, dirty tarpaulin, rope and smoke, illustrating the desolate landscape of war.
Part of the staging (and large portions of the play) are performed on a mezzanine level behind one half of the audience. If you are sat on this side it is almost impossible to watch without straining your neck or annoying the person next to you! This I felt was a strange decision from director Hannah Chissick and actually unnecessary as the main performance on the central stage and aisles worked well.
Josie Lawrence puts on a strong performance as Mother Courage. She articulates to the audience a character with steely determination and an innate inner strength that enables her to survive and adapt to whatever the war torn environment throws at her. She displays a huge range of emotions from deepest sadness to frustrated anger and uses quick witted humour to build relationships and diffuse dangerous situations. It is a remarkable feat given that she is centre stage for much of the 3 hours of the production.
Phoebe Vigor who plays Kattrin shows off her acting abilities by giving a stand out performance as the mute daughter. Using only facial expressions you feel her emotion and heartache without her actually uttering a word. You sense the depth of her helplessness and frustration whenever she sets foot on stage.
Laura Checkley playing Yvette brings life to the stage as the loud quick-witted prostitute. She commands the stage with a swagger and a sharp tongue that leaves the men she encounters a quivering wreck.
I enjoyed the performance but felt that something was lacking … perhaps not being able to see some of the acting didn’t help? It was also very long. Too long. To keep the audience engaged for the full 3 hours it needs to have much greater pace and stronger performances from the supporting actors.
Reviewed by Angela East
Photography by Scott Rylander
MOTHER COURAGE & HER CHILDREN
is at Southwark Playhouse until 9th December