Yes – I was there that night. That’s my feeling looking back at my experience at the Preview of the National Theatre’s Mother Courage and Her Children. The pre-show was a busy chaotic affair and it felt like the lines between setting up the show and the show itself were blurred. The sound of an explosion every now and again created some tension. However, the pre-show seemed to go on and on and it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Then the director took a mic on stage and introduced herself. Deborah Warner then informed us that the cast had been working up to 5 pm, but hadn’t finished to the technical side and as there was a danger to the cast so they were going to perform the play as far as the interval. Deborah Warner then went on to say that if anyone left they could get a refund, but if the audience chose to stay they could also ask for a refund. Some got up to go. Others got up and came back. Most of us stayed.
I must admit that I wasn’t sure if this was really going to happen and that this was just part of the performance or that the performance would stop at the point when the interval was to take place. The performance was an eclectic mix of things. There was a use of multi media which I thought worked much better than in Julius Caesarat the RSC. Yes Fiona Shaw can’t sing beautifully but her singing added to the performance and I really liked the way the backing band could mimic her voice. No this wasn’t the seventeenth century with its floral deck chairs and a wagon that would look in place at the side of a busy road. I was surprised, mystified, entertained and I enjoyed what I saw.
So when the interval came nearly two and half hours later, I really felt that I had seen enough. There was another six scenes to go. Was it an interval or not? There was a curtain call. Some people stood up to applaud and others cheered. My interval drink wasn’t poured, but the glass stood on the bar empty in case I wanted my drink. I travel a long way to the National and I won’t be able to find the time or money to come back to see this production. Was I disappointed? Not really. It had been a theatre going experience that I will remember and yes two and the half hours was worth my money.