We went to see Kathleen Turner in “Mother Courage and her Children” at Arena Stage. All I can say is, Yikes! The play was awful. It was so, how shall I say…Brechtian. That’s a joke people. The play was written by Bertolt Brecht. Written in the 1939, it is an anti-war play presented in a very “new” or “modern” way or as that would have been seen in 1939. Brecht wrote the play to be very chaotic and open to the audience. For example, there were on-stage scene demarcations with someone shouting “scene 3, three years later.” There were on stage costume changes and set changes and generally a lot going on. There was also singing but I would not call it a musical.
I might have been able to put up with the chaos but for Kathleen Turner. She has always had a deep voice, but at this point, her voice is so low she absolutely struggles to get the words out. Her neck is huge and you can see the muscles straining as she tries to be heard even though she is miked. Lady, stop smoking. And if your voice is not strained from smoking, then see a doctor. You really need some vocal cord rehabilitation. It was so bad that Matt joked that he was not really enjoying Harvey Fierstein playing Mother Courage. Turner is also overweight and out of shape. She is a bit older and that is not unexpected. But this is a big and very active role. She huffed and puffed through the play as she tried to shout out her words. Honestly, I was so distracted by my fear that she was about to have a heart attack or keel over from overexertion that I could not pay attention to anything else.
We left at intermission. We just did not care and this play was scheduled to run close to three hours. Sorry, my time is valuable. If I cannot be drawn in during the first half, I am not wasting my time. We learned that lesson during a most painful performance of “Peer Gynt.” (Matt just read that and shuddered.) I was ready to leave at intermission but Matt, being the polite fellow that he is, did not like the idea so we sat through that terrible, boring play. He now agrees. Never again will we waste our time on a play we are not enjoying. And alas, we walked out on Mother Courage.
Hilariously, the play was deemed a triumph by the theater critics. One critic actually called Turner “sexy.” There is no possible way that anyone could have viewed her has sexy. Go to the review, which has a picture of Turner and get back to me.