Sometimes all it takes is a little courage to overcome our problems, but in the case of Mother Courage and Her Children, it apparently takes a lifetime of courage to even survive.
Korda Artistic Productions has selected the 1939 Bertolt Brecht musical/play as it’s May production this year and it’s an interesting choice. Although very dramatic and potent, it is still a musical at heart. BUT, Mamma Mia this is not – the songs are very deep and emotional, and like any wartime drama, it’s quite touching.
The play follows the adventures of Anna Fierling, a.k.a. Mother Courage, who runs a canteen business during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). She tours Europe with a covered wagon of wares for sale, booze for soldiers and her three children in tow. Though determined to make money off the war and keep her children out of harm’s way, she ends up alone and penniless before the whole thing is over.
Armed with a great cast, this Tova Perlmutter/Tracey B. Atin effort was skillfully directed by the duo and stars Atin as Mother Courage herself. Although it’s hard to top her stellar performance as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret earlier this year, her take on Mother Courage is a worthy contender. She gave Mother a 1960s hippy grit, but with all the attitude and harshness one would expect from a 1600s drifter and wartime profiteer.
It was a tough and long show to execute and required a stunning cast to pull it off – many of them with multiple roles throughout. Outstanding nods go to Jennifer Desaulniers (Quartermaster, Regimental Secretary, Farm Woman) Bob Godden (Chaplain), Jenny Hunter (Clerk, Peasant, Mother, Farm Woman), Roberta Hunter (Yvette, Soldier), George Vukmirovic Kelso (Army Recruiter, Sergeant, Soldier), James Neely (General, Colonel, Peasant, Soldier), Mercedes Ranjit (Kattrin), Lev Tokol (Swiss Cheese, Soldier), Kitu Turcas (Eilif, Soldier), Patrick White (Young Soldier, Soldier, Peasant, Son), Jeff Wilkinson (Cook) and Colin Zorzit (Sergeant, Soldier, Informer, Harness Maker, Lieutenant). Ranjit was fabulous as the mute, but very expressive Kattrin and Wilkinson’s Cook served up some great scenes.
The set was simple and mostly centered around a movable wagon that seemed endlessly full of merchandise and food.
I’ve never had the chance to catch Mother Courage and Her Children live anywhere before, so this was an engaging treat and a rare outing of Thirty Years’ War storytelling. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to catch a play that has been branded the best play of the last hundred years, but it’s also one that won’t come around all that often.
Mother Courage and Her Children continues at Korda from May 23 to 26. For more information on the show and to purchase tickets, visit Kordazone Theatre.