JOAN by Sarah Phillips (red red rose).
You'll have a hot time at red red rose's Joan, about medieval hero Joan of Arc. But don't fear for the character's discomfort when she's being burned at the stake: Joan's a puppet, like many of the other characters in this clever, cabaret-style retelling of the story. Audiences first had a look at Sarah Phillips's script during last year's Rhubarb! Festival, when - in the coldest week of the winter - we huddled together outdoors to watch scenes from the show. I really felt for the singing performers, who had to play instruments as well as act in the subzero weather. The show, though, was delightful.
"Well, we're still doing it outdoors, this time in the Distillery District," says Christine Brubaker, who creates, among others, Joan's best friend Hauviette, "but October's weather isn't as chancy as February's. All the actors have done outdoor work, so performing even in bad weather doesn't freak us out."
There's an indoor venue if the weather doesn't cooperate.
"We wanted to create a version of Joan's story that explores her emotional state and her intimate relationships in what was an extraordinary life," notes Brubaker, who's played the title character in the company productions of Salome and Antigone.
Not only is Joan changed by the action, but so are those people who have grown up with her.
"We're also interested in the storytelling and mythmaking aspect, so the story is presented by a group of travelling players, people who are affected by Joan's journey as they recount it."
It's quite a Brechtian version, and Sheri Hay's puppetry design, using coconut shells, bits of sequins and cake-decorating tools for Joan's armour, has a rough-hewn look.
"We think of it as the meeting between Value Village and every small-theatre show you've ever seen," laughs Brubaker. "But there's also the deep emotion of a young girl who takes on a whole society and makes a mistake that leads to her death.
"It's a tale that's both sweet and dark."