Monday, August 7, 2023

Minnesota Fringe Festival 2023: "Mother Courage Bear and Her Children"


Show: 16


By: Clevername Theatre

Written by: Alexander Gerchak

Location: Southern Theater

Summary: A retelling of Bertold Brecht's Mother Courage and her Children, as Care Bears.

Highlights: I didn't think there could be a more Fringey mashup than Winnie the Pooh and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. But then Clevername Theatre followed up last year's brilliant weirdness with this mashup of the Care Bears and Brecht. It's so strange and clever, I'm not sure where to begin. We're introduced to this tale of the centuries long "Sunshine War" by a stern Director (Connor McEvoy) speaking in a German accent, giving a short intro to every scene with zero emotion (other than perhaps annoyance). Mother Courage Bear (Grace Barnstead) sells "cards" and "likes" from her cloud cart (a commentary on our social media obsessed culture), with her children Humanity Bear, Hubris Bear, and Sandwich Bear (in the original play, Mother Courage has a daughter named Swiss Cheese). Other bears we meet include Cowardice Bear, Drudgery Bear, and Prostitution Bear. Children go off to war, bears are murdered, and we get to the eventual unhappy ending. The cast (also including Thomas Buan, Nick Hill, Victoria Jones, and Will Vierzba in multiple roles) stays completely serious despite the ridiculousness of the story (and the costumes - pastel t-shirts and pants with matching ears and a belly patch), even into curtain call. It's a high-concept Fringey show that's well executed with great attention to detail.