Review: Stage management outshines dull characters
The actual performance is eclipsed by the behind-the-scenes production in “Mother Courage and Her Children,” the latest theatrical from the School of Theatre and Dance. The stage management, projections and lighting overshadows the cast of fine arts students.
The second production of the theater season stars second-year graduate student Shannon Hill, who successfully exemplifies the annoying, defensive and overbearing Mother Courage.
The play, originally composed by German playwright Bertolt Brecht in 1939, is set in the 1930s American Dust Bowl and Great Depression. It was fittingly chosen by director Keith Byron Kirk for audiences to compare it to the Great Recession of the late 2000s.
Mother Courage travels across the land with her three oddly unique children — eldest son Eilif (Mateo Mpinduzi-Mott), younger son Swiss Cheese (Miguel Angel Garcia) and mute daughter Kattrin (Kristin Rice).
While Mpinduzi-Mott and Garcia receive a decent amount of time on stage, their presence fades out because of their character’s light and forgettable roles being overpowered by Hill’s.
With the exception of a particular scene regarding one of Mother Courage’s sons, Mpinduzi-Mott and Garcia’s limited roles offer neither interest nor spark.
Rice impressively captures the audience’s attention with body language, facial expressions and hand gestures. For a character that doesn’t have any dialogue interaction and is forced to be silent, she manages to effectively execute her role by providing the anxiety and suspense in the second half of the production.
The play’s title is justified, as Hill is present in almost every scene and everyone’s role revolves around her character. This, however, creates a drowsy syndrome on the audience, causing the play to seem to run longer than it does. It loses the audience’s attention as viewers tune in and out.
The effort, thought and time put into the stage management is the highlight of the production. The play relies on stage design, props and lighting to draw audiences into the dull cast of characters.
Stage Manager Ciara Ayala and her peers, including Projection Designer and Props Master Matthew Plamp, Set Designer Frankie Teuber and Lighting Designer Chelsea Touchet, incorporate recognizable elements of Western culture into the play, making it a delight to watch.
Kirk also allows several students to show off their musical abilities by incorporating their talents into the play before and after scene transitions, distinguishing the production.
“Mother Courage and Her Children” will run at 8 p.m. Nov. 1 to 3 and 2 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Wortham Theatre.