Review: Joan of Arc by The Faction

I’m a big fan of The Faction, and their production of The Talented Mr. Ripley, with which Joan of Arc is playing in repertoire, is my must-see show this Spring. Sadly, though, Joan of Arc doesn’t meet the same standard.

The Faction are dedicated to producing the works of Schiller, and their previous productions of Mary Stuart, Fiesco and The Robbers have done much to revive the playwright’s reputation as relevant to modern theatre. Unfortunately, Joan of Arc, based on Schiller’s The Maid of Orleans adds nothing to this.

Partly, it’s down to the play. One cannot help but compare it to the George Bernard Shaw masterpiece, and it doesn’t stand up well. Gone is the trial scene, the pivotal dramatic crescendo of the story in which the audience is drawn into a natural empathy for the underdog, borne of outrage at the unfairness of her treatment, and admiration for the way in which she faces it.

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Review: The Talented Mr. Ripley by The Faction

The Talented Mr. Ripley is something of a departure for The Faction, being more modern than their usual source material, and also an adaptation, by Faction Artistic Director Mark Leipacher, of a novel by Patricia Highsmith. But the choice of subject is not the only departure for this New Diorama Associate Company. One is used to seeing The Faction perform on a bare stage, but in this production the space is dominated by a raised square platform, painted white and filling the black box space, with only a small corridor around the outside and a square pit in the centre. Gone, too, is The Faction’s fluid, shifting ensemble – the whole weight of this production rests heavily on the shoulders of Christopher Hughes, who plays the creepily obsessive Ripley.

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Review: Thebes, Hamlet and The Robbers by The Faction

The Faction are nothing if not ambitious, and it is their regular rep’ seasons at New Diorama which have raised their profile so extensively. Where else can you see three such diverse plays in one season by the same company, and thus get to know their work so well?

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