Theater: Intrepid Loser

MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN by Bertolt Brecht

Mother Courage is one of the permanent plays of the 20th century; yet it rarely receives a fully satisfying production. One trouble lies in the title role. Mother Courage is as big as war. She is a one-woman field of combat, and few actresses have gone through that bone-deep ordeal or lived en garde with death.

Nor is that all. The tone of the play is one of relentlessly evenhanded irony, both tragic and comic, a very elusive mood to sustain. Finally, there is Brecht's thesis, that war is a continuation of business...

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