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Mother of the Maid is a complete theatrical experience at Marin Theatre.

(l-r) Sherman Fracher as Isabella bond with Rosie Hallet as Joan in Marin Theatre’s Mother of the Maid playing through December 15.

Mother of the Maid: Drama by Jane Anderson. Directed by Jasson Minadakis. Marin Theatre Company, Boyer Theatre, 397 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA. (415) 388-5208 or  November 14 – December 15, 2019

Mother of the Maid is a complete theatrical experience at Marin Theatre. Rating: ★★★★★

The exploits of Joan of Arc have appeared in many forms of literature from essays, biography, plays, movies and even in a Russian opera. Most have been laudatory, some satirical and some critical of religion with emphasis on the Catholic Church. Jane Anderson’s play uses Joan’s bio/history as starting point for a brilliant fictional analysis of her mother Isabella that seems so real you will wish to accept it as fact after seeing her play receiving an almost perfect production on the Marin Theatre stage.

Joan’s (Rosie Hallet) peasant family consists of mother Isabella (Sherman Fracher), father Jacques(Scott Coopwood) and older brother Pierre (Brennan Pickman-Thoon) who live on a sheep farm. They each have various interest or non-interest in religion. Teenage Joan begins to have visions of the archangel St. Catherine instructing her to drive the English from France. As she prepares to enter into battle the initial reaction of the family is severe doubt and she is horse-collared to her bed.  As she interacts with her mother, Isabella becomes proud of Joan’s visitations by the saints and suggests her visions might be the entry into a convent where she would be taught to read and write. But Joan wishes to follow the instructions of St Catherine and heads off to war.

The stage is set for Isabella’s emotional and physical journey to be with, support, defend and redeem her daughter all the way to the fiery stake.  Sherman Fracher plays Isabelle with a fantastic range of emotions through doubt, acceptance, fear and strength. She is a mother to be proud of and as written by Anderson is a beacon for women of all races. Rosie Hallet’s Joan earns accolades developing from a head strong teenager eager to dress in military mufti to frightened, physically chained captive who refuses to deny her visions as she rages against God.

Isabelle (Sherman Fracher, right) visits her imprisoned daughter, Joan (Rosie Hallett). Photo

The supporting cast members are a veritable list of who’s who of regional actors. Scott Coopwood as the father dominates the stage in his staunch rejection of the church cleric magnificently underplayed by the versatile Robert Sicular. Brennan Pickman-Thoon as Joan’s brother demonstrates true sibling loyalty under difficult situations. Liz Sklar as a Lady of the Court offering kindness to Isabella who has walked miles to be with Joan is heartwarming adding another vision of motherhood.

Minadakis’ direction has the right touch having the actors interact on multiple levels allowing scenes to build or decelerate for dramatic effect while the stage crews deftly change the scenery.

The set design alone is worth a visit to Marin Theatre. The first act set depicting the Arc home is mostly of wood reflecting the rural setting. The real stunner is the arched blue and white church interior outlines that flank both the forestage and the rear wall. Original music including vocals and cello plus the atmospheric lighting add a clerical feeling to the entire theater.

In “Mother of the Maid,” Isabelle Arc (Sherman Fracher, left) sees her daughter Joan (Rosie Hallett) for the first time in months. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Running time is one hour and forty minutes plus a 15 minute intermission. This is a must see production.

CAST: Sherman Fracher: Isabelle Arc; Rosie Hallett: Joan Arc; Scott Coopwood: Jacques Arc; Brennan Pickman-Thoon: Pierre Arc; Robert Sicular: Father Gilbert; Liz Sklar: Lady Of The Court;

CREATIVE TEAM: Director, Jasson Minadakis; Scenic Designer, Sean Fanning; Costume Designer, Sara Smith; Assistant Costume Designer, Victoria Mortimer; Lighting Designer, Chris Lundahl; Sound Designer, Sara Huddleston; Composer, Chris Houston; Vocalist & Cellist, Penina Biddle-Gottesman.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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