20 THE RIVER MAGAZINE | Winter 2017 | c u l t u r e | steering her caravan of goods and children beside the troops of soldiers spreading across Europe in the 1620s. But the price to pay for making her living so close to the front line is high; one by one Mother Courage’s children are swallowed up in the tragedy of conflict. Lawrence is feisty and maternal in one moment, sexy and persuasive in the next. This Mother Courage is loaded with the personal qualities needed to survive each day; haggling with soldiers and clinging on to her children with her fingertips pulling them back from the whirlpool of war. Her humanity is stretched and twisted in the process and Lawrence is expert at keeping the audience if not on her side, at least understanding the trade offs she is having to make. As years pass, Mother Courage becomes accustomed to the horror of the landscape and the compromises it forces on her. Death and loss have become normalised,profiteering is guilt-free. Southwark PlayhouSe 77-85 Newington Causeway Se1 6BD t: 020 7407 0234 w: southwarkplayhouse.co.uk It’s a performance by Lawrence that dispels any myths that she is a comedienne only and presents her loud and clear as a serious actor that can bring humour and pathos, weakness and strength to the stage. The small group of players that support Lawrence’s electric performance are also impressive with stand out performances by Laura Checkley as a brassy prostitute who owns the stage when she is on and injects scenes with light hearted dialogue and high energy. Perhaps the most surprising performance of all emerges from Mother Courage’s mute daughter played by up and coming actor Phoebe Vigor. The role, without any spoken lines, is predominantly physical before the interval, but as the play develops so does Kattrin, dragged closer and closer towards the crushing wheels of conflict. With just a range of yelps and soulful wails like a damaged animal, Vigor manages to connect with the audience and communicate the fear and anxiety that possesses her. A powerful performance from a young actor who has just finished touring with the Bristol Old Vic and National Theatre production of Jane Eyre, understudying Jane. All round it’s an evening full of entertainment, humour and reflection on how the innocent are either numbed, maimed, killed or corrupted by war and though written by Bertolt Brecht eighty years ago seems unexpectedly fresh and relevant today. Mother Courage becomes accustomed to the horror of the landscape and the compromises it forces on her. Josie Lawrence with Phoebe Vigor give exceptionally strong and emotional performances at Southwark Playhouse. Owning the stage, Laura Checkley. P H O T O S : S C O T T R Y L A N D E R