The mess onstage at the Delacorte Theater this August is almost as imposing as the mess of the Thirty Years’ War it depicts, or the mess of the Middle Eastern war to which it refers a little too explicitly. Mother Courage may or may not be the greatest play of the twentieth century, as the Public Theater’s Artistic Director, Oscar Eustis, claims at several points in his program notes, but it is certainly one of the hardest to produce effectively; even Brecht admitted this. George C. Wolfe, the most overrated director in the American theater, has responded to Brecht’s calls for an “epic” theater by creating something epically bad.

“This year, we are at war,” Eustis writes; “in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in a vaguely defined war on terror. Both of the productions in the park this summer (Macbeth and Mother Courage) speak to a country and a world at war; both create...


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