The Second Coming of Joan of Arc | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Second Coming of Joan of Arc 

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The Second Coming of Joan of Arc, Green Highway Theater, at Urbus Orbis. She's back and she's pissed! Playwright Carolyn Gage has brought the Maid of Orleans onstage again to annihilate our image of Holy Joan sainthood. In this one-woman play she boasts of how she staved off puberty through anorexia ("There are no eating 'disorders,' only eating strategies"), how she invented her so-called divine mentors out of her own need for "role models," and how her success was founded solely on self-confidence. Oh, and she rants against the hateful armies that failed to protect her from capture, the hateful king who failed to protect her from prison, and the hateful God (a man, just like the rest!) who failed to protect her from death's agony. As she recounts her perpetual victimization, she informs her audience--the female part, that is--that her story is our story, that her suffering is "identical" to ours, and that we're deluded if we believe we're not suffering.

Two hours of spewing bile is a daunting assignment for any actor, but Carol Roscoe gives the role of Joan her all, never allowing her character's trembling fury and shrill defiance to abate even for an instant. Unfortunately, Gage's Symphony in the Key of Bitch only reaffirms our suspicions that martyrdom was the only possible end for Joan. Such a compassionless, self-aggrandizing, man-hating megalomaniac ("The voice telling you to forgive men is not the voice of God!") as the Joan portrayed in this play could never have put aside her weapons, accepted the honors due her, and retired to write her memoirs. --Mary Shen Barnidge

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