Joan: daughter, farm girl, visionary, patriot, king-whisperer, soldier, leader, victor, icon, radical, witch, heretic, saint, martyr, woman. From the torment of the Hundred Years’ War, the charismatic Joan of Arc carved a victory that defined France and ultimately lead to her death.
Josie Rourke’s production, played on and around a slowly rotating table, causing slight dizziness, with Robert Jones’s video screens on the back wall, providing news commentary about the price of food, talk of nationalism and a woman who chooses to cut off her hair and clothe herself as a man.
Mary Stuart, dresses Joan in typical period costume while the men wear modern dress: the intention is to augment Joan’s iconic status and isolation from her peers; to make the point that Shaw’s play exists simultaneously in the past and present. The result, however, is melodramatic and distracts from Shaw’s main theme which is the irreconcilable rivalry between the individual and the established order.
Gemma Arterton’s Joan radiates a gentle simplicity and unwavering belief in her actions, which at times appear to spring from impromptu desire. Understanding why she compels and disconcerts men is easy to see, yet she never quite seem strong enough to lead an army.
As Warwick, Jo Stone-Fewings is cool and level-headed, full of contempt and Niall Buggy is a wonderfully pompous Archbishop, concurrently swayed by Joan’s innocence and fear of her charismatic power. Fisayo Akinade’s Dauphin is impatient awaiting the crown and oozes faintheartedness when the going gets tough and Rory Keenan is sharp and ever efficient Inquisitor.
Playwright: George Bernard Shaw
Director: Josie Rourke
Set Designer: Robert Jones
Lighting Designer: Howard Harrison
Sound Designer: Christopher Shutt
Composer: Michael Bruce
Costume: Mary Stuart
Video Designer: Duncan McLean
Movement Director: Arthur Pita
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Fisayo Akinade, Matt Bardock, Niall Buggy, Richard Cant, Hadley Fraser, Simon Holland Roberts, Arthur Hughes, Rory Keenan, Elliot Levey, Syrus Lowe, Guy Rhys, Jo Stone-Fewings
Photo: Jack Sain