Mother Courage And Her Children
Bertolt Brecht’s epic morality tale about the ravages of war is given unique definition by director Martha Henry’s deeply touching staging. Seana McKenna as Mother Courage (standing on wagon) demonstrates why she’s the strongest female actor on the Canadian stage.

Striking Anti-War Metaphor

You gotta love a character who can stand the test of time. Seana McKenna’s Mother Courage is an unforgettable figure, like so many women of early European times she’s tough, resilient, loud and never admitting the pain, a true heroine who forever picks up the pieces and goes on. She’s street smart and exercises family headship like it’s her birth right to so.

The play’s title, however, is Mother Courage and her Children, and only if we can look at Courage’s behaviour in that light can we make sense of her. She loses all three of them in dreadful circumstances, but from the beginning she sees her duty as protecting them. One son, Eilif runs away to join the battle against her will and of course is killed; the second son Swiss Cheese is executed for stealing the pay box; and the mute daughter Kattrin is shot as she tries to warn the town about an impending siege by banging a cricket bat against a corrugated iron wall, the only way she can communicate.

But even after the loss of all her children Mother Courage picks up her cart and keeps on going. She has changed, and even after she has lost her children, her main reason for living, she progresses from being the Great Mother to the Great Survivor, heroic in an even more universal sense. And that’s why the play still matters, in any adaptation, because it’s about survival, not necessarily of the fittest, but of the toughest.

The Stratford Festival presentation clearly illustrates why this this is a masterpiece that needs to be told again and again. If we see it as a metaphor for life as well as a striking anti-war play seen through the eyes of the people and the forgotten victims, it’s simple words reminds us why armed conflict has no victors.

“The world will end and time will cease; and while we live we buy and sell; and in our graves we shall find peace, unless the war goes on in hell.”

Review by Jonathan O’Neil

MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN by Bertolt Brecht May 15 – Sept. 21, 2014 TOM PATTERSON THEATRE , Stratford TICKETS $45.00 – $135.00 1-800-561-1600 www.stratfordfestival.ca * CAST Seana McKenna, Geraint Wyn Davies, Ben Carlson, Sean Arbuckle, Wayne Best, Daniel Briere, Patricia Collins, Ryan Field, Carmen Grant, Randy Hughson, Peter Hutt, Andrew Lawrie, Jamie Mac, Anthonby Malarky, Deidre Gillard-Rowlings, Jennifer Mogbock, Andre Morin, Karack Osborn, Cal Potter, Andrew Robinson, Brad Rudy, Stephen Russell, E.B. Smith, Brigit Wilson, Antoine Yared DIRECTOR Martha Henry MUSICAL DIRECTOR Laura Burton SET & COSTUMES John Pennoyer LIGHTING Itai Erdal

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  1. Cassandra on July 4, 2014

    ‘Mother Courage’ is a play for any son or daughter that was blessed enough to have parent who gave their soul to raise a family. Such a stirring presentation for The Stratford Festival.

  2. Lipa on July 27, 2014

    Definitely not a happy story but so happy I saw this. Emotionally stirring when the daughter takes to the roof to defend the town. Don’t remember another story scene that has ever been that gripping.

  3. Danielle K. on July 29, 2014

    Oh my gosh the central character in Mother Courage is my mother’s clone. Feisty, fierce, and friendly all wrapped up in one. Hats of to Seana McKenna in this one, so memorable.

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