In today’s Wall Street Journal I review the off-Broadway transfer of Jane Anderson’s Mother of the Maid, starring Glenn Close, and the Broadway transfer of Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song, starring Michael Urie and Mercedes Ruehl. Here’s an excerpt from my review of Mother of the Maid.
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Of the making of shows about Joan of Arc, there is no end—especially at the Public Theater, which gave the 2017 premiere of “Joan of Arc: Into the Fire,” a David Byrne rock musical about the virgin martyr, and is now presenting Jane Anderson’s “Mother of the Maid,” in which Glenn Close plays the title role, Joan’s mother, with gale-force ferocity. First produced three years ago by Shakespeare & Company of Lenox, Mass., “Mother of the Maid” is a shrewdly wrought vehicle for a first-class female actor of a certain age, and Ms. Close, who returned to the stage in 2014 in “A Delicate Balance” and again in 2016 with “Sunset Boulevard,” is up to the task…
Ms. Anderson has revised the script since I first saw the show in 2015, cutting out the superfluous part of St. Catherine and making other changes that tighten up the play without changing its overall approach. “Mother of the Maid” remains a “Lion in Winter”-like 15th-century costume piece in which the Arcs speak not in artificial period style but in the manner of a latter-day family of working-class Brits. Even though she comes on strong, Ms. Close stays faithful to the spirit of Isabelle Arc, an illiterate peasant who can neither fathom how she gave birth to “something that’s taller and smarter than you” nor accept that her strange yet beloved child (Grace Van Patten) is about to be burned at the stake. Nevertheless, there are a few spots when she gives the impression of being a Great Actor playing the part of a simple farmer: She pulls it off and then some, but you can see the acting….
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To read my review of Mother of the Maid, go here.
To read my original review of Torch Song, which is excerpted in today’s Journal, go here.
Jane Anderson and Matthew Penn, the show’s director, talk about Mother of the Maid: