War Mother – Space Til 2 June – 3K

By Peter Maddern

As director, Catherine Fitzgerald, notes in her notes in the program, the topic of war (including State repression and terrorism) has been covered in a million different ways and the modern flavour of questioning the motives of our governments in subscribing to them has also been widely undertaken.

War Mother approaches the task from not only a female perspective but of that of mothers caught up in it all. This production has two main players, Eileen Darley, who recounts from Franca Rame and Dario Fo’s A Mother in unrequited shock the thoughts of the mother of a terrorist, her boy, who despite being raised so carefully is now the targeted as an enemy of the state. While Anni Lindner recounts in Marjolin Van Heemstra’s Switch the anger and dismay and ultimately attempt at revenge towards the society that sells itself out to the State under the guise of conflict.

Over them, coming from an old form reel to reel tape recorder, is Harold Pinter’s Press Conference where some Minister of Culture (spoken by Stephen Sheehan) attempts, ultimately without success, to explain why freedom of speech must necessarily stop with repressing those ideas that pose a threat to good civil order, much to the acceptance of the press gallery with whom the conference is held, they too being only too happy to be a part of the State’s game.

The female leads both give strong performances, playing out their monologues against a backdrop that looks inspired by John Olsen but which features smeared and sometimes splattered blood. Above them are two loose large globes with connecting electrical cords that create an eerie subliminal feel of the worst of the Abu Ghraib torture images.

It was good to see so many school children in attendance on the opening morning and no doubt plenty of good debate would have been aroused by the show back in class. Without being a memorable affair, War Mother is a nice vignette from the STC while the main program gets a break for the Cabaret Festival dealing with a recurring theme in a useful and politically not too opinionated way.

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