The backdrop of The Rose Playhouse on the Southbank makes an atmospheric setting for this portrayal of the trial and condemnation of Joan of Arc. Dark as a prison cell and lit by thin strips of red LEDs, the stage virtually bare but for the tree stump which is the trinity of home, witness box and scaffold, has Joan at its centre and highlights her isolation throughout her life. The circling of the influential and selfish characters that shape her story serves to cage this lark into a situation from which there is no escape.
The narrative of the play is formed as Joan thinks back to her accession from shepherdess to soldier to martyr and by the memories of the key witnesses at the trial. Simply, yet effectively staged, the audience is drawn in to both the inner turmoil of Joan, played by Maud Madlyn and the political intrigues and conspiracies which ultimately cause her downfall. Madlyn, clearly terrified at the trial, is able to revert back to the varying emotions at each stage of her story. Her eventual madness is impassioned and committed. Through examination of the trial of an individual reinvigorating this age old story actually raises the topical questions of zeal and dogmatism, while exploring the rationale behind religious inspired action and the treatment of the individual in question. Joan’s fate is inevitable and terrifying and looks at both sides of the argument around the integrity of martyrdom.
George Collie in the role of the Earl of Warwick and Samuel Heagney as Boudousse were both exceptionally villainous. Tristan Hyde in his role as the impotent and childish King Charles of France was entertaining and incorporated some fantastic comedy into the script by Jean Anouilh, translated by Christopher Fry. For such an epic story the direction was not self-indulgent although some of the final scenes did feel drawn out beyond their dramatic potential. The show certainly could have done with a little more pace and some prudent cuts. There were some lovely examples of ensemble work and it felt as though the company were truly enjoying themselves. If anything, some of the actors could have been more confident in their capabilities. Despite the proximity of player to audience, which can be a great tool, the actors didn’t always use the opportunity to spear the audience with the importance of their words. All in all this was an enjoyable interpretation of a story which is often done and I would recommend catching it at The Rose Southbank this January.
Review by Annemarie Hiscott
THE LARK BY JEAN ANOUIH
January 20, 2015 – January 31, 2015
CELEBRATING THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ENGLISH LONDON PREMIERE
After a successful run at the Voila! Festival (Cockpit Theatre, November 2014), this ‘lively play that never drags’ transfers to the Rose Playhouse, Bankside for 11 new performances!
If you think of Joan of Arc, what images spring to mind?
Maybe fire, maybe an armour, something about the King of France, something about being a witch…not too sure? Does it really matter? Yes it does!
Although she’s become a universal symbol of faith, feminism & bravery, isn’t it strange that no one remembers why? Her story has been rewritten by over 12,000 writers; to celebrate the anniversary of this particular version, join us in (re)discovering the spirit of Joan of Arc!
Surrounded by French, English and Holy Inquisition judges, Joan is moments away from being burned. In a few seconds, she will be nothing but a pile of ashes at the foot of the stake. But hark! Are we back in Domremy, where Joan was born? Is that Chinon and Charles the Dauphin on his throne? As death draws nearer, Joan’s life flashes before her eyes – and yours – allowing us to relive the key moments she wishes to witness one last time.
Cast – Maud Madlyn (Joan of Arc) – ‘Madlyn is the perfect choice to play Joan’, Views from the Gods, November 2014 George Collie (Earl of Warwick), Pip Gladwin (Pierre Cauchon), Samuel Heagney (Promoter/Boudousse), Victoria Howden (Mother/Queen Yolande), Tristan Hyde (Charles le Dauphin/Capitaine La Hire/Brother Ladvenu), Lawrence Toye (Inquisitor/Archbishop), Phil North (Father/Robert de Beaudricourt/La Tremouille)
Bringing this gripping fast-paced medieval drama full of wit and humour back to the London stage, Defiant Reality Theatre are pursuing their open-minded & peaceful mission to have strong female roles take to the centre stage under the direction of women.
Friday 23rd January 2015