I have to confess that before seeing this play I knew very little about the life of this legendary woman and so firstly I have to thank the play for informing me of her story which was portrayed in a clever and emotional manner. I always enjoy a play which informs me and this one did not disappoint.
The lighting was very clever, meaning that a clear message was sent out. Joan (played by Kate Sawyer) was in some way communicating with a higher power – be it God or, as some believed, the devil. Kate Sawyer played the part of Joan well, and was especially strong towards the end during the time of accusation and portrayed the vulnerability of the girl who never wanted fame or glory, but simply to fight. The rest of the cast did a fantastic job of supporting her and the show was at its best when all cast were on stage. I especially enjoyed the times when the characters were telling the same story simultaneously from two different points of view (French and English) which was done in such a clever manner, ensuring you are informed but making sure the show never dragged. The end of the story was finished in a similar way.
The star of the show has to be, for me, Natasha Rickman who played both the French Prince, Charles, and his mother Isabel, a defector to the English, switching seamlessly between the roles simply by putting on a hat. In fact, I didn’t even pick up on this until near the end when the transition happened on stage. In particular Isabel had a monologue towards the end of the show about the wonder of what she saw before her in Joan of Arc, which was portrayed with such feeling and emotion that it felt as if you could have been there, watching her fight yourself. Due to the small size of the theatre, wherever you are sitting you really feel the intensity of her gaze throughout. This applies to the whole production where the closeness really aids the meaning.
The staging in such a small theatre, with so few props was very clever, with bodies being used to create the shape of features such as trees and cages. Due to the lack of helmet and sword, which appeared significant in the play, some form of what looked like clay was used instead. As well as being used for this, it was on the clothes and skin of other characters too which I found a little confusing – I couldn’t quite work out what it represented. I assume there was some metaphor I was missing. My only other (very slight) criticism was that the action perhaps slowed a little towards the end.
Overall, a very well-acted and informative play about an interesting historical event in a lovely theatre. Well worth a visit.
Review by Emily Diver
Joan of Arc
PART OF THE FACTION’S 2015 REP SEASON
Friday 30th January to Saturday 28th February 2015
A young girl shuns her father’s arranged marriage to fight on the battlefield. She is prepared to die for her country following her calling from God. Yet a snap decision in combat threatens her fanatical quest. This epic text sings with spirituality, patriarchy and militarism and remains as significant and relevant to audiences now as it did at its premiere.
The Faction presents this bold reimagining as they continue to stage the complete Schiller canon, with one of the most popular plays performed in his lifetime.
Friday 6th February 2015