By Lucy Komisar
This Saint Joan (Condola Rashad) is a charmer. At the same time, she is no farm wench but a tough young woman of 17. She hears voices. She vows to make the English occupiers leave France.
As she is in soldier‘s dress at the Siege of Orleans, men put her down. In Daniel Sullivan‘s feminist take, the men are fools, bickering jerks. Especially the Dauphin (Adam Chanler-Berat), who is feuding with the Archbishop of Rheims, (the excellent (John Glover).
But then, playwright Bernard Shaw was a feminist, too. And a religious skeptic. Who better than to tell this story.
But how to you do that when a socialist is not a militarist? You focus on the hypocrisy of the religious establishment, that had no problem with war, but only with who keeps power.
The Dauphin has some good points. He complains the armor is too heavy for him and declares. “I am quiet and sensible and don‘t want to kill people…. I want to sleep in comfort of the bed and lie on couches.”
As Rashad plays her, Joan is aggressive, persuasive. She knows to kneel before the Archbishop. She knows to play the Church. To a point. She is attached to the soil, but not as a serf.
And, by the way, the churchmen couldn‘t care less about France. They just hope she‘s not a heretic, whatever that means. And discuss how to save her soul without saving her body. Even worse!
Joan wants to take Paris from the occupiers. The problem in the play is that Rashad doesn‘t have personal magnetism. We never do learn how she got the soldiers to follow her.
Still I loved her besting the crude, crummy clericals and royals!
“Saint Joan.” Written by George Bernard Shaw; directed by Daniel Sullivan. Manhattan Theatre Club at Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street, NYC. (212) 239-6200. Opened April 25, 2018, closes June 10, 2018. 2:45 hrs.