Posts Tagged ‘“Mother Courage”’

It’s here in black and white: Fiona Shaw opens in “Mother Courage and her Children” in a version by Tony Kushner (of “Angels in America” fame), directed by the brilliant Deborah Warner at the National Theatre in September.

The poster image is a pastiche of the “shot” of Tony Blair photographing himself on his camera phone, with a scene of massive atomic destruction behind him – so who knows how modern we’re going to be going… Anyway, as I have written before, I hate not to know where my next fix of Shaw is coming from, and so I shall sleep easier now; even if I have also been haunted by the fact that she really needs to get a wriggle on and play Mary Tyrone in “Long Day’s Journey into Night” before too much more time goes by. But I think it’s time for her Cleopatra next, though who might be her Antony is a trickier question: Simon Russell Beale? Antony Sher? Ralph Fiennes? Sean Penn? Only one of those would be right – and he’s the only one who is never, ever going to do it…

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I am alarmed.

Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw’s “Mother Courage” is now being written of in terms of a Summer slot at the National Theatre – that means an average of one Fiona Shaw London production every eighteen months, and as I have written before, on that basis, she is not going to get through the workload that I have got in mind for her (especially not if her involvement in film continues to strengthen).
She’s been in Brecht before, of course (also at The National) in “The Good Person of Sichuan” – and very good she was too. But I am not sure how excited I am to see her do “Mother Courage” – I can see the fit too well, and there is something inevitable about her playing it (but then, there was about Hedda – and she blew me away to such an extent that I can remember every second some twenty years later).

However, I suppose I should count my blessings: a piece arrived from The National, confirming that the production was actually happening – so it is very good news. I just want to know that she’s having serious thoughts about Mrs.Alving, Volumnia and Martha – and a timetable wouldn’t hurt either…

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I can only assume that Fiona Shaw HATES me.

Sure, we’ve never met – though I have (literally) dreamed that we have – but I can find no other explanation for her cold and unkind treatment of me.

The thing is, I was expecting Deborah Warner’s production of “Mother Courage” to enter The National’s repertoire in January – NOW I am hearing some sort of gobbledegook about “March”! Does she want me to KILL MYSELF? That means (almost exactly) no Fiona Shaw on stage (and let’s be honest, it is only on stage that she is transcendentally magnificent, slaying all comers – good as she can be in film) for almost exactly a year!

She has got a LOT to get through, let’s be honest – because here is a short list (not a shortlist) of the roles that I MUST see her play – and at this rate, she ain’t going to crack it:-

  • Volumnia – clearly essential. No one has nailed it since Irene Worth – and that’s 20 years ago.
  • Mrs. Alving – because I can’t think how she’d do it, but I know it would be brilliant.
  • Prospero– not because of Richard II, but because of her intelligence – and Prospero’s gender is ENTIRELY irrelevant.
  • Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”. Why say more? It’s kind of predictable, but she’d be riveting.
  • Cleopatra– because there is more to that part than has been played to date, even including Judi Dench’s magnificent performance.
  • The Princess in “Sweet Bird of Youth”
  • More Greek Tragedy. I don’t care what – no-one else can go there like she can: Clare Higgins, Zoe Wanamaker, Vanessa Redgrave: magnificent actresses, every one of them – but they don’t approach the reality that Shaw found in Electra and Medea.
  • On reflection: almost anything else – apart from “The Powerbook”.

I am getting really quite concerned about how things are looking in terms of this working out – and I’d like SOME kind of reassurance from Ms. Shaw that she’s prepared to commit to this.

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Sunday, 27th January 2007

Obviously, I am a bit nervous when I don’t know when my next fix of Fiona Shaw is coming, but there have been TWO bits of good news.

First, she is still in New York with “Happy Days” (an engagement that I had though was going to stop before Christmas) and so I am going to fly out there on Sunday and see that incredible play, in that incredible production, with that incredible actress for the fifth time (having seen it three times in London and once in Paris).

After that, it goes dark for a bit – but the National Theatre has confirmed that she and Deborah Warner are going to do “Mother Courage” at the National in 2009.

With that year in mind, as I was reading The Sunday Times, I came across an advertisement for the Donmar’s new season: Jude Law in “Hamlet”, Judi Dench in “Madame de Sade”, Derek Jacobi in “Twelfth Night” and Kenneth Branagh in “Ivanov”. I was about to pick up the ‘phone and book some tickets, until I saw the date: 2009.

Do I want to book tickets for Jude Law in “Hamlet” in eighteen months’ time? Yes. I probably do…

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