The title of Michael Feingold's review, out on newstands today. Verdict: highly critical, yet certainly "fair and balanced," if you will, with lots of praise for Streep in principle, but stressing the big, big flaws here. Also, some thought provoking remarks on the American theatre's problems with Brecht.
But most eye-popping to me was this nuggest of information I had never heard before about BB:
Courage's hard eye for a bargain, her shifting allegiances, and her crafty ability to talk her way out of any situation are not merely conceptual: Brecht found these elements in himself, not in his historical sources. When he first drafted the play in 1939, he had three acknowledged children; his eldest son, Frank, was killed fighting for the Nazis on the Russian front in 1943—a fact surely as relevant to the play as any definition of "alienation effect."
As Feingold makes clear, Brecht the writer and Mother Courage the play have only gotten more compelling with time, not less. And anyone who suggests this production simply does the best it can with a creaky old political tract is doing a disservice to both.
Hard to remember the last time a major production divided critics so much. I'd say the trend has been negative among the heavy hitters, but the broader spectrum (including bloggers) includes significant praise. I also have a hunch (just a hunch) that it's the younger critics you have liked it more. (I'm thinking of NY Mag's McCarter and Time Out's Feldman, certainly smart guys.) Brantley, Feingold, McNulty, Jenkins, and Marks, are hardly old. But just old enough to have a stronger impression of what Brecht meant in the 60s and 70s in their minds.
I suppose at this moment it's appropriate to reveal that I'm 36. Just an old codger at heart, I guess.
Anyway, Rob Kendt has been keeping a full tally (here and here), including, imagine, a critique of my review!