Southern Theatre delivers update to Joan of Arc story

Alexandra Nicolas - Editor-in-Chief

Alexandra Nicolas – Editor-in-Chief

When one hears “Joan of Arc” one immediately gets visions of the triumphant virgin clad in white leading the French to glory and then dying nobly for king and country.

In Missouri Southern’s production of The Lark by Jean Anouilh we get a creative and welcome different picture.

Though Joan, remains her old pious self, Cassie Hardie, junior theatre major, brings a certain warmth and realism to a character who is often painted in a bright and shimmering larger-than-life spectrum. Other characters in Joan’s story were also brought into a world within our reach through the intricate yet explicable dialogue that almost seems to be a play within itself. Just as the audience knows the story and the eventual end, the actors, who are all present for the entire play, know as well.

The Inquisitor, played by Matt Davidson, was one of the many characters that seemed to transcend the time barrier with an all knowing and coldly oppressive presence (quite similar to that of our governments) that could be felt throughout the entire play, despite the fact that he does not begin speaking until the end of the first act (also similar to our government).

In the midst of an almost constant display of talent, Michael Runion, who played the character of Warwick. put on a display of shining excellence.

His notable stage presence brought a twist of sharp wit along with moments of gentle sincerity. He was a definite standout.

The technical designers also do an impressive job achieving the play’s objective of “one foot in the middle ages and one foot in next week” through the use of minimal costuming, lighting and music selections that span the decades.

Jennifer Felkner, costume designer, achieves a seamless (no pun intended) blend of medieval and modern with pieces such as Todd Manley’s old world bishops cape and Hardies modern men’s military uniform.

Lyle Burrow, sound designer, also brings yesterday together with tomorrow utilizing everything from medieval style flutes to heavy metal.

Though the director, actors and technicians created a timeless and powerful story the one part that continued to jerk me back to reality was the use of baseball helmets for the English soldiers.

I am a proud thespian and very willing to accept anything and everything I see on stage, but I can only go so far. And that particular touch was a bit too far.

Minor basebal-related flaws aside, Southern Theatre and the cast and crew of The Lark brought a commanding and beautifully haunting story to the stage with ever-pressing ideas that will continue to be pertinent in decades to come.