Review Round-up: Shaw Shows Courage at NT
Currently booking until 6 December, Bertolt Brecht’s anti-war epic runs to over three hours in Tony Kushner’s new translation, which is accompanied by live music from Duke Special, as well as recorded scene announcements from Gore Vidal, making his London stage debut.
The original press night was delayed by nine days and when critics finally saw the play last night, they emerged massively divided in opinion. Whatsonstage.com's Michael Coveney found Warner’s production “thrilling’, though several other reviewers suggested she had rather overegged the rock’n’roll aesthetic. And while Shaw was commended by some commentators, The Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer called it “one of the embarrassing spectacles I’ve ever seen in a theatre”.
Nevertheless, Fiona Mountford of the Evening Standard and Michael Billington of the Guardian thought Shaw captured Mother Courage’s inherent contradictions. And there was praise all round for the supporting cast, in particular Stephen Kennedy as the chaplain, as well as for Duke Special - albeit faint from the pen of Charles Spencer, who called his “weary, bleary music ... the best thing in the show”.