16 September 2009

Mother Courage by Bertolt Brecht
translated by Tony Kushner

The One with the Eyepatch & Ensemble- Anthony Mark Barrow
Soldier & Ensemble -William J Cassidy
The Regimental Secretary & Ensemble- Johannes Flaschberger
The Clerk & Ensemble - Jonathan Gunthorpe
The Chaplain - Stephen Kennedy
The Quartermaster & Ensemble - Youssef Kerkour
The Cook - Martin Marquez
Young Soldier & Ensemble- Louis McKenzie
Farmer's Son & Ensemble - Kyle McPhail
Farmer's Wife & Ensemble - Siobhán McSweeney
Swiss Cheese - Harry Melling
Farmer's Wife & Ensemble - Eleanor Montgomery
Older Soldier & Ensemble - Stephen O'Toole
Yvette - Charlotte Randle
Soldier & Ensemble - Guy Rhys
Eilif - Clifford Samuel
Mother Courage - Fiona Shaw
The Colonel & The Lieutenant - Roger Sloman
The General -Colin Stinton
Kattrin - Sophie Stone
Young Man & Ensemble - Morgan Watkins
The Army Recruiter, The Sergeant & Ensemble - Sargon Yelda

Director - Deborah Warner
Set Designer - Tom Pye

Seen at the glorious Olivier on what was originally going to the be the Press Night. It wasn't ready for the press (and how) but the good news is that we had a nice early start at 7pm. Fabulous seats improved by absentees next to us. Actor in the audience - Ryan Sampson, yes you - I spotted you!

It's so long since I've updated and I have forgotten the format I usually use. I am going to work backwards and do the things that are the most fresh in my mind. I know that I usually include some press shots but even when they become available, I shall be loathe to include them since the bloomin' photographer did his stills last night and completely disrupted a section of the fee-paying audience. Shameful scheduling there on the NT's part. It drives me crazy to see someone bobbing around as if there is nobody else in the room with a shutter clunking away in a Q & A situation but at a theatrical performance, it is inexcusable. I want to lose myself in a production but with all that going on, I found the first two or three acts fragmented and dull.

I will surmise that had I been able to get more exclusively involved in the production as it started, I may have embraced it more thoroughly. It felt like Warhorse without the brio and that was in spite of the incredible efforts from the lovely cast. Everyone gave so much to this but it still hasn't quite pulled together. I have no doubt it will be tighter next week but I don't think I could sit through it again. Stephen Kennedy's promotion to The Chaplain was extremely successful (though I don't know how Peter Gowan had been handling it) and Fiona Shaw is staggeringly charismatic.

The musical interventions were clearly made with great meaning but didn't communicate their intent to me and I doubt the circle had any idea what they were doing there. That said, the tiny little fella had an intoxicatingly rich texture to his voice that I could have listened to in a different setting until the cows came home. Don't know anything about the band yet but since the singer/pianist lists himself in the programme as Duke Special, there's a reek of pretension that I'm not keen on (unless it's mine own). Click either of the links for a download & you'll hear what I mean about the voice.

I just wanted to go round first with some oil and then with a spanner to tighten all the nuts. I'm sure it will settle into itself eventually. My advice might be to see it near the end of the run but there were three curtain calls and many people on their feet so what do I know? One thing I am completely certain of is that this auditorium is perfect for this kind of production.