War Mother is a compilation of short contemporary plays – Press Conference by Harold Pinter, A Mother by Franca Rame and Dario Fo, and Switch by Marjolijn Van Heemstra. The different pieces have commonalities that thread together well, creating a moving, thought-provoking and sometimes confronting tapestry about the brutality and complexity of war and terrorism.
The overriding link between these plays is the experience of the mother. The production presents women, and stories of women, who are in their own unique ways a part of the horrors of war, politics and psychology. It is the mother’s and more broadly the woman’s experience of this madness that makes the work fascinating.
Delivered in a series of monologues that keep the actors apart we feel the agony of the battle ground, particularly when hit home by a young suicide bomber’s determined ride and the self- doubt, confusion and shock felt by a mother whose son has been arrested as a terrorist. The monologues stay often in an almost “recounting narrative” form but unexpected magical moments where the drama unfolds before us do come along, and shine.
Catherine Fitzgerald’s precise direction of the topical material brings out strong performances from actors Eileen Darley and Anni Linder and the production gains from rich, emotive singing of Bertolt Brecht & Hans Eisler songs by Darley and music composition by Catherine Oates.
David Gadsden’s lighting exposes and shadows harsh realities and puts the audience in the spot light at times. Ailsa Paterson’s set dominated by blood red stools and a hanging jumble of electrical cords creates an edgy chaos that could be the aftermath of an explosion. Voice-over performance from Stephen Sheehan is an added bonus.
War Mother is a work which will create discussion about the multifaceted and awful issues surrounding modern warfare, the governments that are responsible for it and the devastation of lives and countries that are affected by it.
State Theatre Company SA’s War Mother continues at the Space Theatre, Adelaide until 1 June before commencing on a regional tour of South Australia
(Visiting Pt Pirie, Pt Augusta, Whyalla, Pt Lincoln, Golden Grove, Elizabeth, Noarlunga, Goolwa, Mt Gambier and Renmark)
For full season details visit statetheatrecompany.com.au