Mother Courage and Her Children

Rated 3.0 Everything about Mother Courage and Her Children is a challenge, for both the actors and the audience. It’s a German play translated into English, it was written by complex playwright Bertolt Brecht, and it’s an epic story that runs two-and-a-half hours in length. After suffering the effects of World Wars I and II, German-born Brecht wrote Mother Courage as a testament to the futility and greed of war. The play is set in the 1600s. We are introduced to Mother Courage as she follows military troops, in a supply wagon loaded down with her children and marketable goods.

To Mother Courage, a profiteer with allegiances to no one, war is a chance for business. Despite the chaos around her, Mother Courage soldiers on with her wartime sales, even at the expense of her three children.

It takes courage to stage Mother Courage. It’s a difficult play to present, with its sprawling plots, layered dialogue, interspersed songs, distant emotions and dense language. But those components are what makes Brecht so … Brecht. City Theatre exhibits bravery in its selection of a timely play that examines war and profiteers.

The large cast, composed of professional leads supported by student actors, had an impressive goal with this ambitious undertaking. However, the long play seems to overwhelm their good intentions. Lengthy scene changes, awkward dialogue and unnecessary songs (with apologies to Brecht and talented local musician Jesse Valerio) bog down the action. The epic drags on, but noteworthy performances by Kim McCann, Jennifer Lam, Amir Sharafeh and Jes Gonzales help keep this production an interesting journey.