LA PUCELLE: REVIEW FROM THE East Kent Mercury, England of the performance at the Astor Theatre, Deal

‘The latest production from the excellent theatre nomad discovers director Luke Dixon in serious mood. Well known for a distinctly camp approach to Shakespeare, and his arresting, if not quite arrestable adventures in cross casting and gender bending, Dixon has a reputation for great joie de vivre in his productions and bringing a contemporary freshness to classic texts.

This piece, is reflective, contemplative, almost meditative. Highly choreographed and a very physical piece of theatre, it is based not just on Shakespeare’s words but on those of St Joan and improvisations by the cast.

The exploration of gender issues is to the fore as always in Dixon’s work but is so familiar within the story of St. Joan, embattled alongside male soldiers, that it seems barely significant. ‘The clothing is little, the least thing’. The stronger emphasis falls on the nature and level of scrutiny to which Joan was subjected for her belief in her ‘voices’ and the passion with which she pursued her visions. Adding to that sense was the presence of a television camera placed in the middle of the audience and the harshly revealing bright white light needed to film the performance. Text spoken in French and Hungarian as well as English, contributed to the sense of having to try and make sense of the unfolding story. It created a slight, telling uncertainty as to whether it was possible to fully understand what was happening. The seductiveness of the story telling was undeniable and engaging in any language – but how to be quite certain what was being said? How to judge the integrity and veracity of the storyteller? Whether or not to trust the ‘voices’.

Music accompanied most of the performance and underscored some lyrical early moments celebrating childhood freedoms with Songs of the Auverne. Dark, threatening battle sequences were set to John Adams. Short (50 minutes) and vividly performed by a cast of four young women, La Pucelle takes theatre nomad in a new and intensely poetic direction.’


Luke Dixon and Jane Turner have had a long fascination with the tango and have made many shows, most recently Sick Heart, with this dance at their centre. Now they are teaming up with the band Tango Siempre for two projects.

The first is a tango evening at theatre nomad’s home, The Astor Theatre in Deal. This will be a prelude to a large-scale community event in the East Sussex as part of the Uckfield Festival in July 2002. About one hundred local people will be involved in the making of a tango based performance based on the local legend of Lake Wood, a tragic tale of thwarted love. Also in the team working with Luke and Jane will be Paul Huntley-Thomas, Andre Molnar and Lisa Payne.


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