Joan of Arc has become such a sacred cow and cultural icon it’s hard for theatre to do her justice. llot that anyone ever did in real life. Jean Anoullh’s version of the legend is a high-flying and sympathetic role- playing exercise, as in turn we see past, present and projected future played out before us. Characters slip in and out of what could be a standard courtroom drama, spicing up the action and splicing the narrative thread.
But apart from an emotional, though cleverly understated, Joan, proceedings are no more than surface deep in this production. While initially coming over as a hilarious wheeze, the
scenes in the future King’s court are played gratineg for laughs and could
be taken straight from Blackadder.
The rest of the time there’s far too
much stiff upper-lip and not enough 7 truth, while excessive costume
changes, intending to be clever, merely distract from the meat of
Whilst Justine Waddell shows
, genuine talent as Joan, on the whole you’d be as well keeping the myth of
the martyr intact in the sanctity of your own head. (lleil Cooper)
The Lark (Fringe), CABS, Cambridge University, Ilill Street Theatre ( Venue 41) 226 6522, until 26 Aug, 2pm, £5 (£4).
.‘ ' j The larlt: aka Joan of Arc
No.2. Bristo Square, Venue
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THE BIG BOOK FDR GIRLS
A mythical England
, jumps off the page and
into high-stepping life in this gloriously rollicking romp set in ajolly hockey-sticks girls school
‘3 circa 1938. Here the spirit
of the Empire and the archaic debris of the class system is Virgo flllllt'ltl. Day girls are second class citizens. crushes are as common as midnight feasts and jingoism is hereditary. Double entendres abound as the blossoming sexuality of women on the verge smoulders to the surface. A huge cast under the steady hand ofdirector lan Ormsby-Knox perform with considerable
skill and appropriately
wide-eyed panache. Happy endings abound.
and when the girls beat
the local boys school at
cricket it's all too rippineg ripping. Songs are belted out with
confidence. and the
choreography is small~
scale Busby Berkeley. After all the froth and
frolics though. an i unexpected twist catches
you unawares and leaves you reeling. (Neil Cooper)
' I The Big Book For Girls 1 (Fringe) NSTC. Assembly
Rooms (Venue 3) 226
2428. until 2 Sept. 2.05pm. £7/£8 (£7/£()).
WT or THE BLUE
lna series of eight crisp monologues, New Yorker Richard lloehler reaches inside the people and situations that most writers ignore - a telephone 5 receptionist taking orders, a builder . reflecting on a fling with a TV actress, a waiter at the funeral of a customer acquaintance. Whereas we are ‘ normally shown the hassled buyer, the glamorous actress and the weeping
Clean Sheets and Bloody Games: Late Result
1 CLEAN SHEETS . AHo BLOODY GAMES
Based around the ladies” pub football team on a no- liope southern housing estate. Stephen
Keyworth's play is packed
with fag-end characters.
and lines that hang
quizzically in the air long after the action has passed
on ~- ‘l’ve seen the
criminal mind and it dresses in war" being a prime example. The play opens with news of a pub
regular who has been kicked to death and it‘s peppered throughout with references to violence. culminating in the off- stage petrol bombing of the local all night cafe. The ‘aghast' factor is definitely uppermost. The writing lacks a goal but not gall and there are occasional impressive moments provided by a gutsy cast. (Ronan O'Donnell)
I Clean Sheets and
Bloody Games (Fringe)
Active Performance. Gilded Balloon ll (Venue
; 5|) 225 6520. until 25 . Aug. 1.45pm. £5.50
llichard lloehler: more faces than most ;
3 result is dignified, funny, moving and g tascinating.
Not surprisingly, there are one or two
I slightly weaker sketches. The first,
' which features a man making all sorts of excuses for being late for work, is delivered almost too fast to follow and the basic idea, though a good one, was made funnier in lleil Simon’s film The Heartbreak Kid.
' But this is quibbling. The standard of
. lioehler’s writing and performance is
j exceptionally high. Every word and
gesture rings true, and using only the simplest props — coffee, a jacket, 3
builder’s helmet, a baseball cap - he
; creates characters that are
§ sufficiently different to avoid
" repetition but sufficiently connected to give an overall unity.
Most of them see themselves as
' losers (whether they are or not), but in
a wonderful reversal. A man teaching
English to foreigners — usually
stereotyped as a Ioser’s job - is shown
T by his students to be a winner. After
some very funny exchanges with
‘Svetlona’ in particular, we witness
him earn a real sense of achievement. For these beautifully observed
portraits, lloehler too should feel a
sense of achievement. A winner. (Ben
Out of the Blue (Fringe) Richard lloehler, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556
widow, lloehler gives us the other side E 6550, untIIZSept (not 29) 1.45pm,
of every day working life, and the
32 The List l8-24 Aug I995