JOAN

★★★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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JOAN
Published 13 August 2016

Joan has left a seat for Saint Katherine, but will she turn up? Will she be there for one who has loved her in her hour of need? Because this is Joan of Arc, the medieval warrior and saviour of France, and she’s about to be burnt at the stake for heresy.

This is Joan’s life—which so threatened French society in its defiance of gender norms—as drag-king cabaret. Her journey from Domrémy, to breaking the English siege in Orleans, to her trial in Rouen is told through dressing up and bluesy songs. Lucy J. Skilbeck’s script is blunt, beautiful and heartfelt, an earthy mix of comedy and tragedy that makes Joan’s struggle real.

As soon as Lucy Jane Parkinson, as Joan, bounds into the stage space we encircle, she owns it. She collapses history into a relatable present, wearing massive boots and a Tank Girl t-shirt. She’s Northern, nervy and funny, and capable of wrenching your heart out – whether camping it up as a glittery, moustachioed Charles VII or floundering for help, betrayed and abandoned.

With the dazzle of the show’s lighting removing much sense of where we are, watching ourselves reflected in carefully positioned mirrors, we’re completely in the moment with Joan. Her transformations are invigorating and uplifting; the moment she’s forced to put her hair down and be ‘a girl’ is crushing. When Parkinson sings, it’s like an open wound.

This is a bruising, brilliant show, about making yourself anew and the hope and despair of everything in between.