Sunday, 20 September 2009

Mother Courage and Her Children (National Theatre)

The acoustics in the Olivier Theatre are amazing, I wish I'd seen Oklahoma. Anna and I didn't know what to expect from Mother Courage, I hadn't read anything (they haven't had their Press Night yet thanks to last minute cast changes) and I think we expected a short political piece. It was three hours and twenty minutes long, and every scene had a huge angry musical number in it.
Mother Courage makes her entrance standing on top of a covered wagon that rises up out of huge pit in the ground to flashing lights, the sounds of war and blaring music. She is wearing an impressive frock and singing aggressively into a microphone. Her children pull the wagon in circles around the stage while she belts out her opinions.
Fiona Shaw is possibly the best performer I have ever seen on stage. The role was hers, the play was hers, the stage was hers. She has the most amazing stage presence. I'd heard she was good, but to know her only as an actor who plays silly bit-parts on screen, well, she blew me away. Now I'm not sexist, BUT I've never seen a woman hold the stage like that, she had the stage presence of a man. A really really REALLY good man.
I saw four shows in the last three days, Mother Courage was the first one, it's the one that sticks with me just because Fiona Shaw was so good. I cried at the end.

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