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The Mother – Instruction for a Revolution

Die Mutter: Anleitung für eine Revolution is at the Berliner Ensemble directed by Christina Tscharyiski. Are you ready for it?

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Exploitative capitalism still sucks. Photo: JR / Berliner ensemble

Yes, we’re slow to the party, this premiered late September, and yes, this is the third Bertolt Brecht-penned piece reviewed by us in as many months. But, hey, he’s important here, and this interpretation of his work is another on the ‘highly recommended’ list: better late than never!

From the minute Sophie Stockinger appears as Pawel, revolutionary son, delivering a compelling opening ‘teaching’ updating the play’s message to our precariat 21st century under neoliberalism’s scourge, you’re inspired to join the uprising. Hot on her heels, by the time the fabulous three-piece band led by Wanda’s Manuel Poppe have scorched their way through the first, stirringly rearranged Hanns Eisler tune you’re roused and falling into collective march. Janina Audick’s stage design is pared-back and elegant, dominated by a massive double-headed bolt. Similar stellar economy is delivered by the tight six-member ensemble, taking effective hold of multiple roles, helped by the bold clarity of Verena Dengler’s costume design. Special mention to Peter Moltzen’s highly comic insert, a wild improvised ride while dressed as a food tube complete with silly food-tube-cap hat. Constanze Becker is magnetic in the title role, and although the semiotics were clear in switching Josefin Platt into the role for the play’s latter section, it was disappointing to lose Becker’s presence, the tenoral flow disrupted. Similarly, the communism of the 90-year-old original occasionally sits unsteady alongside our day, though ultimately, exploitative capitalism still sucks.

In her third production at Berliner Ensemble, given the verve of this Gesamtwerk, director Christina Tscharyiski is definitely one to keep watching.

Nov 10-13, Dec 28-29. In German