‘Saint Joan’, Donmar Warehouse

A rather belated post, this, as I saw this play back in February! In fact, I caught a matinee after a rather inspiring hour walking with friends in the Women’s March in central London – the move from a crowd of passionate people defending women’s rights, to a play about a young woman challenging the masculine status quo, was not lost on me.

Gemma Arterton was quite luminous as Joan. Dressed in period clothing (a plain ‘peasant’ dress, then chainmail later) she challenges the male characters with the directness and truthfulness of her gaze. She was well-matched by intelligent performances from the rest of the cast (Elliot Levey being a real highlight, passionately begging Joan to renounce her claims in order to live), and the modern updates, for me, worked rather smoothly.

Lately I have become very interested in T. E. Lawrence (more of that in another post, I think!), so I was intrigued to learn that Shaw had partly based his portrayal of Joan on Ned. The parallels are quite clear: Joan and Ned were both individuals, highly unusual souls, who were hailed as different during their lifetimes, and who both achieved, or tried to achieve, extraordinary feats.



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