An unashamedly silly retelling of the story of behind St. Joan of Arc. Once it gets started it successfully combines subversive fun and poetic spirituality. The story follows Joan throughout her life, from early encounters with Saint Catherine as the Saint guided Joan and her journey from home after witnessing the death of her mother during an English raid. Plotting Joan’s rise, adopting the clothes of a man, Joan lead an army as they lifted the siege of Orleans, restoring Charles VII to the throne and her subsequent fall and capture by the Burgundians, her trial and torture and eventual burning at the stake. Throughout, Joan is an engaging and entertaining figure to watch.

Joan is one of those shows that manages to be silly and bombastic, whilst also quietly reminding you to be who you want to be, no matter how complicated or simple.

Lucy Jane Parkinson - also known as the drag king LoUis CYfer - gives an endlessly energetic solo performance. Handling both Joan’s calm spirituality and innocent delight at exploration, and the wickedly observed men Joan meets along the way with charisma and energy. Showing the audience the magic behind the transformations, if anything, simply reinforced the impressiveness of Parkinson’s performance - and illustrates how thin the lines between genders in performance are. Lucy J Skilbeck’s script handled well the shifts between visions of saints and much more modern colloquial audience interaction moments.

You can feel the Fringe origins of Joan quite clearly. The piece makes use of plenty of audience interaction and tongue in cheek banter, although the use of black space for the performance made it feel like it might have been better suited to a more intimate venue. When I did catch the lyrics to the songs they were cleverly written and the music was catchy - but there was a definite issue with clarity. Also with the script - I thought I was familiar with the story of Joan of Arc, and found myself getting lost in the story.

The design of is simple but effective, a very versatile performance space that suited the huge variety of locations it needed to represent, whilst also harking back to a cabaret influence. Half of the wizardry had to come under the excellently deployed costume and makeup. The lighting and sound had a lovely sense of atmosphere, conjuring beautiful sunrises, battlefields and even disco smoothly whilst the sound design was expertly deployed to add mysticism to choice moments.

Joan is one of those shows that manages to be silly and bombastic, whilst also quietly reminding you to be who you want to be, no matter how complicated or simple.

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

An earthy story of courage, conviction and hope, this is Joan of Arc. Performed by drag king champion Lucy Jane Parkinson, history's greatest gender-warrior takes to the stage, dragging up as the men she defies in this smash-hit show.

Packed with guts, heart (and some well placed couscous), Joan is the latest daring fusion of lyrical new writing and cabaret prowess from the multi-award winning Milk Presents.

What happens when a disguise becomes something a lot more real and you have to fight for who you really are? A fearless solo play, with uproario us songs, about what it means to stand out, stand up and stand alone.

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