Variety Review: 'Shaw's 'Saint Joan' Starring Condola Rashad -- Divine
“There is something about the girl,” say several characters over the course of George Bernard Shaw’s “Saint Joan,” now receiving a smart, stylish and engaging Broadway revival by the Manhattan Theatre Club. They’re referring, of course, to Joan of Arc, the self-possessed country maid of Lorraine, on a mission to save France in the 15th century and fulfill her holy destiny.
But they could also be talking about the actress who portrays her. Playing a part that is as daunting as it is dazzling, Condola Rashad steps into the starring role in a blaze of glory and claims it as her own. Rashad’s depiction of the wide-eyed, visionary youth of fierce determination, unwavering faith and beguiling innocence — not to mention a beatific smile that radiates to the balcony — makes you a believer, too
As a lone girl against a phalanx of men of privilege and power — including a self-centered king of dubious lineage, righteous prelates and feudal one-percenters — Shaw’s play is being revived at a moment of parallel relevance, when women and teenagers are feeling equally emboldened in their causes.
But in this 1923 play, written three years after Joan received sainthood, Shaw never goes for the didactic slam-dunk, even when the angels are on his side. Instead he revels in the complexity of issues, motives and agendas in a dialectic that’s weighty even as it crackles with wit.
In a handsome production — Scott Park designed the imposing, giant pipe-organ of a set which Justin Townsend lights with infinite tones of hope and foreboding — Dan Sullivan deftly directs his first-class, deep-bench cast with subtle shadings of doubt and wonder.