by Shirley Lorraine
The Lark brings history to Elite
Rounding out the Elite Theatre’s 2017 season is the acclaimed “The Lark”, chronicling the trial, condemnation and ultimate end of Joan D’Arc. Written by Jean Anouilh then translated from French and adapted by Lillian Hellman, the offering first hit the stage in the early 1950’s starring Julie Harris and Boris Karloff in the leading roles.
For those unfamiliar with the historical figure, Joan was a teen peasant girl who lived in France in Medieval times. She heard voices and firmly believed that God was speaking directly to her. He was commanding her to lead a band of soldiers to help win the war in France.
After convincing the Dauphin Charles to give her an army Joan broke all conventions to move forward. Despite leading the troupe to victory, her methods were questioned and she was ultimately tried for witchcraft. She was sentenced and burned at the stake at the age of 19. Considerable controversy followed questioning the outcome. Though debate still exists, she is now considered one of history’s greatest saints, and an enduring symbol of French unity and nationalism.
Director Alexander Schottky has assembled a cast bursting with talent, both seasoned and budding. His staging is equally mixed, utilizing both period and modern dress as well as a ubiquitous set of moveable cubes used to form suggestions of scenes. The mix works very well and one quickly assimilates all the visuals into a cohesive whole. The ending leaves room for contemplation.
Brittany Danyel takes on the challenging role of the Maid of Orléans and delivers a solid characterization full of nuance. She is compelling to watch as she meets challenges and challengers head on.
The role of key player The Earl of Warwick is portrayed by theater veteran Howard Leader. The Earl becomes a narrator/director of sorts, leading the players to continue the story. He presents with a strong, commanding and confident demeanor.
Jake Mailey conquers the role of the complicated Cauchon with poise and ease. Steven Silvers delivers a consistently interesting and complex Dauphin Charles. Notable performances are also given by Hayley Silvers as the Little Queen, Stephanie Rice as Yolande, Cecily Hendricks as the mistress Agnes, Dan Tullis as The Promoter, Ken Jones as La Hire, Ted Elrick as the Archbishop, and Bill Waxman as The Inquisitor.
All roles, even the very small ones, are played well within their limited scope. Several of the roles are double cast to accommodate actors’ schedules so check the cast photos the night you attend.
The one aspect that was confusing, to me, was the choice of intermission music. Modern pop tunes were used which I was unable to connect to the action. In my opinion, they took away from the mood of the play rather than enhanced it. A minor point perhaps, but noticeable.
The night I attended the cast outnumbered the audience, which was a shame. This is a play worthy of higher audience participation. Here is hoping the attendance picks up as the run continues.
The Lark runs through November 20. Friday & Saturday eves 8 PM, Sunday matinees 2 p.m.
General admission $20. Seniors/Students/Military $17. Reservations are encouraged.
Elite Theatre Company,
2731 Victoria Avenue, Fisherman’s Wharf,
Channel Islands Harbor
2731 S. Victoria Ave