Review: ‘Joan of Arc’ and the Monotony of Sainthood

In David Byrne’s inert new musical, France’s favorite saint storms England with power chords.

Comments: 15

  1. While I'm glad that I agree with Ben (for once), I have to say that the "Many Parts, One Body" song that Ben mentions is a horrible song about torture. Not sure I saw the wit in it, especially since it's staged and sung in the style of a black preacher-type song. The whole production was like a regional theater production, like something out of a Christopher Guest movie.

  2. Is it heresy to observe that saints are bores?

    An odd opening line/premise - and easily disproved by the likes of G.B. Shaw, Carl Dreyer, even C. B.DeMille. (Shakespeare took a whack at her, too.) And that's just one saint.

  3. I haven't been so angry at money wasted on theater in a very long time. $120 for this undercooked tripe (though even free it would have been an egregious waste of time). Brantley was correct about nearly everything though nowhere near as harsh as he should have been. Let this serve as a warning. If you're contemplating buying tickets for this thing, stop. If you have tickets for this thing, get your money back.

  4. Too kind by half. Oddly, it is sad compliment to for profit theater. No for profit producer would have allowed this dreadful musical to open.

  5. "Joan of Arc," Off Broadway Musical, at the Public Theater, reviewed
    by Ben Brantley, March 15, 2017.
    Not an aficionado of musicals, I will not travel to New York to see "Joan of
    Arc." But I must confess that reviewer Brantley disappointed me by not
    watching and responding to the British National Theatre's recent production
    of George Bernard Shaw's unforgettable dramatic exposition of Joan's
    life and martyrdom in "Saint Joan" (1924) The play was telecast to four hundred theaters and movie houses around the world, including dozens of cities in the U. S. Even a casual reading of Shaw's play would impress the
    reader with the Shavian perspective of Joan as one of the earliest feminists
    in the world and as as one who embodied the playwright's portrait of her as one blessed with "Life Force," that enables them to change the world by their
    fierce idealism. Far from being a pious and platitudinous preacher, Joan, as G. B. S. brilliantly presents her in the play, is a witty woman of action, and a fearless freedom fighter. Although Joan draws all of Shaw's empathy and admiration, the playwright is not guilty of painting her adversaries, the
    leaders of the R. C. C., with a broad brush as her diabolical enemies. The church had to burn her at the stake to preserve and sustain itself as a monolith.

    I hope Ben Brantley will not miss Ibsen's masterpiece, "Hedda Gabler," which
    the British National Theatre is currently telecasting around the globe.

  6. To K. N. KUTTY, you're looking for more praise for yet another Ivo van Hove stream-lined, bare bones production -- this time Ibsen's Hedda Gabler? Mr. van Hove is the most overpraised, pretentious director currently making the rounds. And, as ferguson pointed out, Matt Wolf reviewed the Donmar production of "Saint Joan" in the NY Times. While directed by a different person, it again is a high-concept production which sounds like it adds nothing to Shaw's brilliant play (I agree with you on that point). I wish directors would stop trying to "make their mark" on classic works and direct the play in front of them. The current perversion on Broadway is Sam Gold's production of "The Glass Menagerie" which is one of the most appalling things I've ever had the unpleasantness to sit through.

  7. I was pretty dismayed the male feminist lens of this show. A large sheet emblazoned with the "nevertheless she persisted" quote that has become a feminist rallying cry of late hangs over the stage from the moment one enters the theater. It was sometime during the first of two creepy songs about Joan being "intact" that I realized not only is the cast and band almost entirely male but also pretty much the entire production team. Perhaps if more women were involved in the production of this play we would have a more multi-dimensional characterization of Joan or at least someone might have decided to forgo the priest creepily stroking a speculum in the latter half of the show. While well-intentioned, a play that actually views Joan through a feminist lens would show her not as a monotonous saint but a complex heroine. To truly be a show that promotes and celebrates women, hire more women.

  8. Just sat restlessly wishing that I could quietly leave my seat after the opening it was torture to sit thru an hour and a half Totally boring and uninspiring and has no reldVance toour current depressive struggle and need to resist

  9. Big David Byrne fan and a regular musical-goer. Don't normally agree with BB, but those who said his review was too kind are right. Everyone in my party of 4 felt the same way about the show. Spend your $ elsewhere.

  10. Biggest problem is that there's no arc in this Joan of Arc.

  11. Joan of ... is mediocre material done in by bad direction and choreography. It's a waste of a terrific, heart-felt performance by Jo Lampert.

  12. I loved it. All of it- the music, the set, the lighting, the cast, the choreography and especially the stand out star Jo Lampert. I think the story of a brave, clever, female (virgin!) sainted martyr was a brave choice that has been done justice. Bravo!

  13. Very pleasant to watch and listen to. Uplifting. Creative.