A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see the National Theatre Live production of Saint Joan at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA). The production, starring Gemma Arterton, is an updated version of George Bernard Shaw’s classic 1920s play.
Set in France on a revolving boardroom filled with hedge fund managers, the play tells the story of Joan of Arc: daughter, farm girl, visionary, patriot, king-whisperer, soldier, leader, victor, icon, radical, witch, heretic, saint, martyr and woman.
The play opens with the shocking news that hens have stopped laying eggs, leading to a crash in the stock market. The hedge fund managers are understandably worried but then a local farm girl called Joan arrives, boasting about her ability to speak to dead Saints and Angels and tells the men that God is on her side. She asks them to let her take control of the army so that she can drive the English out of France. Of course, she’s immediately met with ridicule, but then she does something amazing – she asks the dead saints to help her get the hens laying eggs again. When it works – she’s suddenly someone to be reckoned with.
While Gemma Arterton’s performance is wonderful as the feminist farm girl turned visionary, the modern setting with all its technology and gadgets left me a little bit cold. Personally, I would have preferred a more faithful adaptation of this play, but I still enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Joan and her amazing strength and conviction.
My next visit to the DCA will be to see the celebrated play Hedda Gabler, written by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. Starring the amazing Ruth Wilson – it’s a National Theatre Live production, not to be missed!
*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of Saint Joan in exchange for this fair and honest review.