Circus Courage Based on Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertold Brecht Directed by Igal Ezrati Translated by Shimon Zandbank Arab Hebrew Theater February 13 Circus Courage is a brave attempt to emphasize the monstrosities of war through the light-hearted brightness of circus performance. It is also a brave attempt to express visually, and in terms that are accessible to an audience, Brecht's theories on "Alienation," or the idea that an audience should react intellectually rather than emotionally to any given stage presentation. That it doesn't quite work is due mainly to Ezrati's young and enthusiastic cast that lacks the experience and expertise to carry off the required stylizations of the circus vehicle. Masked by clown make-up and dressed in cast-offs, the 11 young actors, all from the theater department at Seminar Hakibbutzim, play 20 characters. They juggle, clown, dance, sing and impersonate their way though the story of Mother Courage, their playfulness masking the horrors of the events that take place during the murderous 30 year war that raged from 1618- 48, involved most of Europe's reigning powers and devastated much of the countries involved for generations. Courage follows the combatant armies with her canteen wagon. She has three children, the mute and slightly retarded Katrin, and her sons Eilif and Swisscheese. She is mercenary and unsentimental, but seeks like a lioness to protect her children. The years pass, the fortunes of war fluctuate and Mother Courage loses her children one by one. As the episodic play ends, Courage is left alone with her wagon. To emphasize, perhaps, the universality of motherhood and loss, Ezrati cast three actresses as Courage. Of them all, Yael Toker best embodied Courage's sheer doggedness and will to survive. The three Katrins did their best, but never quite achieved the spiritual innocence that informs the character. And therein lies the paradox of Brecht's theories. As much as he tried not to, he made his characters all too human. Nor does it take much imagination to realize that the production is a metaphor for our own unending, embittering 60 year conflict.