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"Mother of the Maid" (review) (thru 9/6)

Short Description of "Mother of the Maid" (review) (thru 9/6)

“Mother of the Maid” (review)

Shakespeare & Co

70 Kemble St

Lenox, MA

shakespeare.org

 

Ever go to a restaurant and the food was mediocre at best, but your server was so wonderful and so bubbly, the dining experience ended up being a great one anyway? So it goes with theater, too, namely the world premiere of “Mother of the Maid” at Shakespeare & Co playing thru September 6th. This is a world premiere by Emmy-Award winning author Jane Anderson about the martyr and Saint, Joan of Arc. To launch this play, Shakespeare & Co pulled out no stops, with a list of talent on that stage second to none: Tina Packer, Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Jason Asprey, Nigel Gore, Nathaniel Kent and Anne Troup.

 

Tina Packer joins the ranks of Jayne Adkinson and a handful of others who walk on the stage and command a five star performance. You go to see them just to see them mold a character like no other. Combine her with Elizabeth Aspenlieder, as we saw in “Beauty Queen of Leenane”, and the chemistry is consistently incendiary.”Mother of the Maid” is no exception. Packer illuminates like only she can.

 

 

Still, there is that plate of mediocre script we need to deal with.

 

Mind you, the script is not terrible. The fact that it is laden with some glowing errors is what has me bothered, because it could have been premiere of the season.

 

The story of Joan of Arc is a sad one, but truthfully, all life stories about martyrs are sad. She was nineteen years old and heard voices and saw visions of St. Catherine, herself a martyr, telling her to lead an army and take France back from the English. Joan dressed like a boy to accomplish this, and without any military experience whatsoever, liberated France during English reign from the Hundred Year War. Her problems arose when she was captured and tried for being a witch. She was burned at the stake clutching a Crucifix. Her mother was not allowed at the execution, but her father was. He got there first thing in the morning to be with his daughter, and died of a heart attack after watching her burn to death.

 

Joan would later produce miracles and be Sainted by the Church.

 

Laughing?

 

No, me neither.

 

The one laughing throughout the play is our narrator, St. Catherine, who somehow thinks this is all funny. She appears throughout at various times laughing and joking and stroking Joan's hair in a way that is a bit twisted. Her appearance becomes so aggravating and frustrating, you want to close your eyes or plug your ears or stand up and yell at her to get off the stage, or all three. The direction takes a largely beautiful story and rips it to shreds with this cockamamy character. I don't blame Bridgit Saracino who plays St. Catherine at all. Perhaps the fact that she so infuriated me makes her that good. But her character needs to go.

 

Tina Packer will deliver deep, profound thoughts on having her peasant daughter save a nation and then watch her die a horrible death. And along comes our St. Catherine, laughing away like the tooth fairy, snapping her fingers and making dollar bills appear under pillows of children everywhere.

 

Don't get me wrong: This play is riveting, dark, and enchanting. Joan is apt, but more twinkly than the robust character she needs to be. Nigel Gore is dominant, forceful and medieval, a spectacular addition to the cast, but his character gets angry too fast and leaves his emotions no room to grow. Minor flaws become major irritations in a potentially great script.

 

But unfortunately, it should have been the character of Catherine who was burned at the stake to make this script truly amazing.

 

--Richard DiMaggio

 

by Jane Anderson

directed by Matthew Penn

Anne Troup - Joan of Arc

Tina Packer – Joan's mother, Isabelle

Nigel Gore – Joan's father, Kacques

Jason Asprey – religious

Bridgit Saracino – St. Catherine

Contact Information

Address: 70 Kemble St, Lenox, MA 01240, USA

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