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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Stage Review

On Chelsea waterfront, a moving story of motherhood

CHELSEA — Should a child who’s been separated from his natural mother go back to that mother, or should he stay with the woman who’s raised and loved him? That’s the dilemma of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” and it resolves meltingly in the free outdoor production directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques that Apollinaire Theatre Company is presenting in Chelsea’s waterfront Mary O’Malley Park.

Brecht doesn’t leave much doubt as to where your sympathies should lie in this parable set in a timeless region of the Caucasus. Forced to flee her palace when the nobles rebel, the Governor’s Wife is so preoccupied with choosing which sumptuous dresses to pack that she leaves her infant son behind. Kitchen maid Grusha rescues Michael and takes him with her through war torn Grusinia, buying overpriced milk for him, carrying him across a rickety footbridge swaying over an abyss, bringing him to her cowardly brother’s house in the northern mountains, even marrying a man she doesn’t love so he’ll have a father. When the Governor’s Wife returns and demands that Grusha surrender the boy, it’s no surprise that Azdak, a judge who takes bribes from the rich but renders verdicts in favor of the poor, awards Michael to Grusha and even divorces Grusha from her husband so she can marry the man she does love, the soldier Simon.

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