This refreshingly playful version of George Bernard Shaw’s tale of Joan of Arc is made all the more thrilling by taking place in a theatre that defies the odds by its very existence. Having survived land developers and Thatcherism, the half-excavated remains of the Elizabethan Rose now sit in a cave-like space underneath an office block. It’s an atmospheric setting for the story of a woman who achieved notoriety less than two centuries before Shakespeare and Marlowe had plays performed there.
Director Constanza Hola Chamy’s modernised production abridges Shaw’s 1923 text and [highlighter color=”orange”]depicts Joan as a sultry teenage Goth, all Dr Martens and Kohl eyeliner. Performed with flair by Suzanne Marie, she leaps across the stage like a manga character, equally at home listening to punk rock on an iPod as attempting to kick the British out of France.[/highlighter]
Chris Eastwood is endearingly precocious as a childish King Charles, a fool in a tiger onesie, while Grace Kennedy is mesmerising in various supporting roles. It’s a shame that the play uses overly long film footage for the conclusion when the cast’s on-stage performances are much stronger. The pantomime-like style of the piece doesn’t allow much room for deep emotion – even when Joan is finally burnt at the stake – but it’s a deliciously accessible romp that pertinently highlights ongoing conflicts between the individual and those in charge.