Joan

There are moments of brilliance in this one-person-variety-show, but Joan's intriguing idea is let down by lack of critical editing.

An interesting idea executed with heart

Joan reimagines the story of Joan d’Arc, famous 15th century peasant girl who claimed to have visions of Saint Catherine, and who defied gender norms by leading the French army. The story is only partially modernised, a decision which allows us to keep an open mind about the ways in which these issues affect our own times. The magnetic Lucy Jane Parkinson performs Lucy J Skilbeck’s original script which mixes multiple styles. At times, it feels we are in a cabaret bar, watching karaoke in drag. Yet at the drop of a hat, quite literally, we are in a monologue drama piece, or, with another alarming switch, witnessing an audience interaction straight from a comedy show. This one-hander-variety-show contains much within it, but unfortunately the pieces didn't always fit together in a complementary way.

For the most part, the script is a piecing together of conversational and poetic lines, and there are moments of real lyricism. Joan’s description of her first vision of Saint Catherine is powerful yet gentle at the same time, carefully evoking the intense calm which she is describing: “like if sunset had a sound”. Similarly, Joan witnessing her village under attack is skilfully written and performed, understated without removing the raw horror of the sight. However, it can feel rather basic at times. There is too much repetition, particularly of key words – aiming at dramatic effect, this actually removes the power from those words. The end of the hour, for example, is a difficult moment to capture, but her death throes are sadly bathetic rather than sympathetic.

Interspersed within the narrative there are songs, where Parkinson performs in drag. These male characters include Joan’s father, the Dauphin, and a judge who tries her in court. Parkinson’s experience as a drag king shine through, and these are sung with energetic delight. She appears to have the most fun as the saucy and camp Dauphin, donning a gold sequinned jacket, gold sequinned cap, and thrusting away to Sheboy. Some are less successful – the first song as Joan's father appears to have music at a different pace to the one which Parkinson wants to follow, meaning her emphatic choreographed actions feel clunky.


Joan is an interesting idea executed with heart, and the sincere appreciation from the audience at the end shows the need for more shows like this – tackling gender issues in diverse ways, combining the playful and the tragic. Joan is a welcome and lovely addition to this conversation. With time, editing, and development it could become truly great. 

Reviews by Lily Lindon

Assembly George Square Theatre

David O'Doherty: Big Time

★★★★
Roundabout @ Summerhall

Scorch

★★★★
Underbelly, George Square

Fleabag

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Appropriate Adult

★★★★
Underbelly Med Quad

Joan

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

The multi award-winning show about Joan of Arc returns! Performed by drag king champion Lucy Jane Parkinson, history's greatest gender warrior takes the stage dragging up as the men she defies in this smash hit show. Packed with guts and heart, Joan is the latest daring fusion of lyrical new writing and cabaret prowess from the award-winning Milk Presents. A fearless solo play with uproarious songs about what it means to stand out, stand up and stand alone. Winner of the Scotsman Fringe First, Stage and Spirit of the Fringe Awards 2016. ‘A triumphant solo show’ (Stage).

Most Popular See More

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets