Who ever knew that a tiny, girl tending her sheep in a field could become one of the most influential characters in the French 100 Years’ War?! French history has never been my strong point, I let myself down earlier on today by making references to Marie Antoinette as the queen in this story (Shamer!).
However, I do feel enlightened having gone to Fast Intent’s production of The Lark, a production which, through the playing out of the English trial of Joan of Arc, tells the tale of a virtuous young girl who isolates herself from all she knows in order to influence a victory which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII.
With a backdrop as atmospheric as The Boy’s School in Smock Alley Theatre; the story of this young girl’s epic journey is spun out through interjections from members of the court who struggle to believe such an innocent, uneducated young girl could hear voices from God and act on them in such a way.
Indeed, the story of Joan of Arc is quite unbelievably. A young, peasant girl who at 16 left home to begin a series of acts that each in turn cause the primary members of the French upper class and military to push France towards a victory that gives Charles the crown. For her work, Joan is rewarded with capture by the English and trial to determine whether she should be imprisoned for life or burned at the stake. Some may know the result, but I’ll leave it out for those that don’t.
For a relatively young theatre company, Fast Intent have done a really good job of presenting a character-led story. There’s not much in the way of thrilling battlefield exploits, but much more so in the presentation of a very simple character who finds herself completely isolated from everything she knows, with nobody to trust and an enormous task to do. You could argue her madness as she feels compelled to drive on because her voices tell her to do so, but as these voices silence when Joan is left to defend herself in a prison cell, you feel nothing but pity.
A very intense production; The Lark is an absorbing piece of theatre that won’t thrill Hollywood blockbuster addicts, but for those who are seeking to be impressed by the strength, courage and determination of a single character; you won’t be let down.
The show plays at Smock Alley theatre until Saturday, August 11.
Tuesday 31st July – Saturday 11th August/8pm – The Boy’s School, Smock Alley Theatre.
Matinees: Saturday 4thAug/ Saturday 11th at 3pm.
Ticket prices: €15, Conc. €12.50 (Low price preview 30th July, all tickets €10).
BOOKING INFORMATION: www.smockalley.com (01 – 6770014) or www.entertainment.ie