Tak­ing stock: NT Live’s Saint Joan

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS -

The British the­ater crit­ics were split in their re­ac­tions to the pro­duc­tion that Na­tional The­atre Live in HD broad­casts this week: Ge­orge Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan as di­rected by Josie Rourke at Lon­don’s Don­mar Ware­house, a small venue that en­forces in­ti­mate con­nec­tion be­tween ac­tors and view­ers and that tends to­ward dar­ing ap­proaches when it mounts clas­sic plays. De­pend­ing on the re­view, its mod­ern­ized set­ting ei­ther un­der­scores com­mon­al­i­ties be­tween the Mid­dle Ages and the present or else comes across as ar­bi­trary and con­fused; plac­ing peas­ant Joan in a mod­ern stock-bro­ker­age firm ei­ther does or doesn’t pro­vide a po­tent up­dat­ing of the orig­i­nal story of faith ver­sus pol­i­tics; and ex­ten­sive cuts in the text ei­ther make the play more dra­matic or rob it of its po­etry (yet it still runs two and three-quar­ter hours). At least there is gen­eral con­sen­sus that Gemma Arter­ton, in the title role, de­liv­ers a splen­did per­for­mance within a strongly cast en­sem­ble. You can catch this NT Live pre­sen­ta­tion at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter (211 W. San Fran­cisco St.) at 7 p.m. on Fri­day, Feb. 17. Tick­ets ($22) can be ac­quired through www.tick­etssantafe.org or by call­ing 505-988-1234. — James M. Keller

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