I am somewhat familiar with the story of Joan of Arc and a little less familiar with St.Joan the play by George Bernard Shaw, based on the life and trail of Joan of Arc published in 1924. But what I witnessed this week on the stage of the Lyric Theatre was a modern day woman expressing herself through words, actions and unadulterated passion (not unlike the ladies and gents marching for the rights of females in Ireland at the weekend). I found a women who was full of integrity, who grew from the girlie meek protestor to the leader of the rebellion and who stood-fast to her beliefs even through condemnation .
Lisa Dwyer Hogg in the role of Joan is like an epic tidal wave she sweeps the audience up in every move and action. We are pulled along with her voice and we, like her fellow actors in arms cannot help but be pulled along on this roller coaster of a ride.
Director Jimmy Fay sets his scene in an open plan office with tiled roof, stained walls and unforgiving lighting. Something quite similar to an office of a bank (which I used to frequent) and like in the banking world, his characters are idolised and condemned all in the one space.
Joan is idolised, condemned, rejoiced, loved by state and church throughout the play but at the peak of her “fame” she is seen as a threat. The fabulous Abigail McGibbon plays a number of roles in this production (some originally cast as male roles) but she constantly comes to the aid of Joan, offering her a way into and out of trouble. In last few scenes she takes on almost a maternal role as she tries to plee with Joan to save herself but to no end.
The entire cast of St. Joan fit together perfectly together like a jigsaw there multi-talented and portray the tragedy with respect, grit and a sprinkle of humour.
I loved this production there were moments when I laughed and rejoiced, but it had me on the edge of my seat throughout, tears in my eyes and anger in my heart. Bravo to the Lyric more productions like this please.
Want to check it out for yourself visit http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk the show runs until the 8th October.
Emer D xx