Saint Joan, George Bernard Shaw’s masterful retelling of the story of the French saint, recently opened at Donmar Warehouse. Here are just some of the reasons this production is unmissable…
1. Gemma Arterton as Saint Joan
Olivier Award nominee Gemma Arterton is mesmeric as the titular Saint Joan. Bathed in a beautiful light throughout the production she captures Joan of Arc’s complex mixture of innocence, naiveté and courage. Gemma gives a spellbinding performance, bringing to life one of history’s most intriguing figures.
2. Josie Rourke’s direction
Under Josie Rourke’s direction Saint Joan becomes a contemporary allegory of our times. With no battle scenes or violence, the play focuses on the motives of men; how actions are driven not by compassion or understanding but power, money and interpretations of religious doctrines. Josie’s production shows us that we have much to learn from looking back at our past actions.
3. Fisayo Akinade as the Dauphin
The Dauphin, on paper rather ineffectual and needy, is played with charm by Fisayo Akinade; his performance of an unready King is equal parts comic and poignant. Gemma and Fisayo bounce off each other throughout the production as both are dependent on each other to secure their goals.
4. Robert Jones’ design
Robert Jones lets this human tragedy unfold on a minimalist set, giving the men on stage nowhere to hide during their persecution. At the centre of the revolving stage is a gleaming boardroom table, a gauche centrepiece around which men scheme.
5. Unexpected Cameos
Interspersed throughout the production are video pieces that breathlessly report the turmoil in France and England. Look out for Newsnight presenter Evan Davis who makes his Donmar debut to explain the unexpected rise of this populist figure – well rehearsed after a tumultuous 2016!
Photos by Jack Sain.
Saint Joan runs at Donmar Warehouse until 18 February and will be broadcast live in cinemas in partnership with National Theatre Live on 16 February.
Visit the venue’s website to book tickets.