Saint Joan is a play by Bernard Shaw about the famous Joan of Arc. In this production directed by Josie Rourke, the play is slightly modernized with technological aspects thrown in, making this production stand out from others. Starring Gemma Arterton as Joan, it’s a stellar piece of theatre and a show I’m very glad I got to see. Gemma is outstanding as Joan. She’s the only female in the cast and outshines the rest of the cast. She’s not in every scene, but, the scenes she weren’t in ended up dragging slightly, because she wasn’t in them. I mean. naturally, I’m going to be drawn towards a woman who conquers gender norms and social status. Why wouldn’t I be? The way she delivers the text is just astonishing. Particularly at the end, it could easily be portrayed as her being a witch and a madwoman but the way Gemma does it, what you see on stage is a woman in doubt and in fear that the voices she’s been listening to have actually been lying to her.
Going into this, it’s a play I didn’t know much about, in terms of historical context. I knew who Joan was but I didn’t actually know how she became the figure that she is. And it’s a show that still resonates with society today. A woman states she can do the same job as a man and instead of praise she gets a huge amount of backlash. Sound familiar? And I think the technological aspects only enhanced the relevance to today. The characters often communicate via telephones/iphones and lots of video visuals that help enhance where the scene is taking place. The Donmar is only a 250 seater and can only do so much in such a small space. Nevertheless, I felt encapsulated into this world.
Josie Rourke has created an incredible production. I’m really glad I got to see this through the Donmar’s Young + Free scheme where a selected amount of tickets are given to under 25s for free. This production will also be live streamed into cinemas through NT Live so be sure to check it out if it’s in a cinema near you.
Saint Joan is currently playing at the Donmar Warehouse until 18th February. And it will be streamed into cinemas across the UK on 16th February. For more information please check out https://www.donmarwarehouse.com/production/12/saint-joan/
Until next time,