Joan of Arc Comes to Little Theater on a ‘Lark’

Joan of Arc is one of the most famous women in history. Her story of willing her way into the French army and leading them past the British siege of Orleans is nothing less than spectacular.
Performing April 12 to 14 in the Little Theater, the department of drama’s production of Jean Anouilh’s stage adaptation of Joan’s life isn’t quite as spectacular.
The church set, a simple yet spot-on design, immediately informed the audience where they were being taken. Combine this with the nice costume design and it’s easy for the audience to feel like they’re in the Hundred Years’ War.
The different platforms and use of the far backstage made it seem like there was more area than the Little Theater’s space would otherwise allow.
The lighting design was equally impressive. The lights switching from one area to another and the quick color changes were all timed well.
Unfortunately, aside from these points, the show got sloppy. A large problem was the actors’ tendency to stumble over many of their lines. It was easy to dismiss the first few times it happened, but after a while, it became troublesome.
The actors were sometimes able to cover their stumbles so the casual audience member did not notice, but not always. The most glaring instance of this was when Andrew Delman, as Charles, was talking to Joan at the end of her trial. It looked like he had forgotten his line and was stalling for time.
The two standout actors of the performance were Nathan Crocker (who was excellent in winter quarter’s ‘Polaroid Stories’) as Cauchon and Heidi Agerholm Balle as Joan, but even they were caught stumbling over a line or two.
Actors Michael Doonan (The Promoter) and Michael Lane (Inquisitor) seemed to be under a perpetual curse that forced them to scream every line. Their characters were angry with Joan, but there are other ways to portray anger. They screamed so often that the effect was lost on the audience.
A bigger problem than the acting was the script, which struggled with inserting jokes at the wrong times. It was like a child that did not know when it was time to be serious.
Throughout the play, there were a number of sharp turns that were as humorous as they were confusing.
The fast-paced, schizophrenic, first half of the show was followed by a mellow second half that seemed like it had found itself. Ironically, just when the show seemed to have found the right balance of comedy and drama, it suddenly became boring.
The second half was full of long monologues in which the actors would walk back and forth on a small part of the stage and do nothing to command the audience’s attention. It made it difficult to pay attention and keep track of what was happening.
The drama department’s productions are top notch, but when it comes to ‘The Lark,’ they could have done better.
Rating: 2.5/5