Comedy, Music & Drama – until 16 May at Players Theatre @ Trinity College
This play deals with many aspects of the legend/ history of Joan of Arc, while broadening the subject matter to racial complexity in modern day France and beyond. It was written by Julia Pascal who is a British, Jewish playwright and theatre director and was first performed in 1997 in Lille and Paris.
The play takes the form of a dream to allow a quick moving narrative that changes freely between scenes and settings, asking questions about nationalism and race. The early part of the play discusses the history of France, showing that the nation has no singular history but is instead an inter mingling of influences and ideas.
St. Joan or Joan of Arc has become a mythical figure. She received a series of visions from Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine instructing her to support Charles VII. She was involved in a number of battles that lead to the coronation of Charles. She was later captured and handed over to the English, who burned her at the stake at the tender age of 19. Many aspects of her life are played out on stage, but they are juxtaposed against more recent events. Various scenes portray the relationship between the French and Algeria, the burning crosses of the Klu Klux Klan, Slave Caves off the coast of Africa and the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
As you enter the space, all three members of the cast are already on stage. Two of them stand with their back turned to the audience while the third remains hidden at the rear. From the first moments you realise that this is no amateur production. A huge amount of rehearsal has gone into their movement and the various dance sequences. The actors change quickly between roles and settings, meaning you have to keep on your toes to follow. The choreography is tight and the three members of the cast are impressive, with Samantha Pearl (The Seagull – Pan Pan) particularly catching the eye.
Last night there was a small crowd at the theatre, and in truth this production may have got lost in the Gay Theatre Festival. It does not have a strong gay theme and would have been better suited outside the festival where it would have received more attention, which it richly deserved.
Written by Julia Pascal | Directed by Katrin Hilbe
Cast – Juliet Dante, Rachel Halper, Samantha Pearl.