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Milk Presents, in association with Derby Theatre and The Seymour Centre and Siren Theatre Company, JOAN, by Lucy J Skilbeck, in the Sound Lounge, at the Seymour Centre, Chippendale. February 16, 17 and 18.

JOAN is a one woman, Award winning performance, from the United Kingdom, having toured to Perth as part of the Perth Festival. It has been written and Directed by by Lucy J Skilbeck and is performed by Lucy Jane Parkinson.

 Lucy Jane Parkinson, a drag king champion, takes on the story of Joan of Arc, playing Joan, herself, ‘history’s greatest gender-warrior’ … and dragging up the men she defies: among them her father, Jacques d’Arc; the Dauphin of France (soon to become Charles VII, crowned at Rheims, under her protection); and Pierre Cauchon, a pro-Burgundian who tries and condemns her to death, by burning at the stake.

The Seymour Sound Lounge, usually a jazz venue, has re-configured its seating to create a ‘theatre-in-the-round’ where we meet the artist. In a play that uses a combination of language text of some poetic breadth, the technique of broad music hall comic inter-action/participation, and some songs of cabaret style, we are regaled with some of the true ‘herstory’ of Joan of Arc of the first half of the fifteenth century (1412-1456).

It is, in turns, comic, disarming and moving, irreverent, respectful, entertaining and clever. Ms Parkinson in a sly mixture of rough bravado and inspired sensitivity has us consider the curious case of young Joan (17) who being more comfortable in men’s clothing convinces the men of the time to grant her leadership of an army, based on her said voices from Saint Catherine (Margaret and the Angel Gabriel, as well), to fight the invading English army, and crown the Dauphin as King of France.

It is the charm and shining intelligence of the actor that shamelessly employs the many ‘tricks’ of beguilement of both ‘high’ and ‘low’ theatre techniques to seduce her audience to a participatory engagement to carefully consider an argued sexual political insight to the puzzle that has tantalised historians for years. In our present gender fluid environment it is a very arresting idea.

Later in the year the Sydney Theatre Company are presenting a version of G.B.Shaw’s great play, ST JOAN, with Sarah Snook, and this short entertaining work is a very interesting prep for that experience, I reckon.

The work is Directed and Composed, by Lucy J Skilbeck. The Design is by Emma Bailey. The Lighting by Joshua Pharo/ Sarah Readman. Sound Design and Arrangements by David Lexington.

Catch it if you can. A rewarding idling away of time.