Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: 'The Lark' in Smock Alley Theatre

A new production of Jean Anouilh's The Lark is currently running in Smock Alley Theatre. The Lark is set during trial of Joan of Arc, and tells a dramatised account of her life. It's a good play in its own right but the greatest strength of this production by theatre company Fast Intent is the choice of venue, The Boys' School in Smock Alley. The high ceiling, faded brick backdrop and hard wooden benches are well suited to the atmosphere of the play. Few productions are so fortunate (or so foresightful) as to have such a simple and effective ready-made setting.

Despite the somewhat grim subject of the play this is an entertaining and amusing production. Anouilh resists the temptation to reduce the antagonists to nothing more than caricatures of stupidity or evil. Although at times the clerics' remarks are used for comic effect, Joan's questioners also have the chance to present compelling arguments against her and to display a possible desire for mercy. Fast Intent hint at the relevance of the play's themes to modern Ireland, and while I don't disagree, I also enjoyed it at the simpler level of appreciating the Hundred Years War. Watching an English-language version of a French play about the war that defined both of those archetypal nation-states is a pleasure.

Rating: 4/5

The Lark continues in Smock Alley Theatre until Saturday 11th August 2012. The performance starts at 8 pm and runs for approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes including a 15 minute interval. Tickets cost €15 / €12.50. There are matinee performances at 3 pm on Saturday 4th and Saturday 11th August.

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