JOAN runs until March 26th at The Metro Studio Theatre.

Joan – a Fascinating Piece of Folklore

Monday Magazine Theatre Critic reviews Theatre SKAM's production of Joan

The versatile artistic producer of Theatre SKAM has written a wonderful play, which is part of this year’s SPARK Festival. Joan is the story of Joan Mans, an eccentric Victoria character who died around nine years ago. I’m sorry I came here too late to know her.

Basically Joan was a supporter of all the arts, with an opinion on everything, and a habit of getting up people’s noses. It would appear she managed to irritate everyone at one time or another. But somehow she became part of the arts scene, especially at Swan’s Pub following a variety of performances at different venues. And somehow directors, producers, performers and reviewers began to tolerate her, to accept her, and even to like her for her quirkiness. Matthew Payne found himself as her best friend, especially during her last years; she stayed in his mind until he felt compelled to write her story.

The play is cleverly constructed, with Joan first being introduced as an old lady, then as a young woman, and also as a child. The three people in these roles are exceptionally talented. Lynda Raino is the old version, a woman losing her memory. Having fallen and broken her hip, and having no family, she lives in Oak Bay Lodge, from where she escapes from time to time, usually with her friend Matthew. The younger person is skillfully played by Treena Stubel, who shows us a brisk individual, a Wren in WW II. She is/was at some time a teacher who still corrects people’s grammar when in conversation. Hannah Janz portrays the child, who engages us right from the time she steps out of old Joan’s suitcase.

Matthew plays himself. The characters interact with each other, and with the projections on the backdrop – an interesting mixture of photos, videos and words. There is also an overlay of sound and voices, intricately woven into the action. This works really well on the plain stage at the Metro Theatre.

Interspersed with all this busy-ness, are the masks, worn by the characters to indicate fish and a rat. You have to be there to appreciate that. And to top it all off we have a children’s ensemble and a choir.

The thing that Matthew Payne does really well with this play, is preserve some of Joan’s mystery. We know she has been married, but when and to whom? There are hints of a child, but was there one? Some research takes place, but at the end of the day it is probably better not to know. There are vague references to an affair with an internationally-known conductor, but we don’t find out who he is, or any other details.

The almost surreal tone, as all of these people, memories, and thoughts float about, definitely grabs the attention of the audience. Joan is a fascinating look at a woman who has become part of our local folklore. It runs at the Metro until March 26, with one matinee on that date. For tickets go to ticketrocket.co or call 250-590-6291.

 

Just Posted

Local and international artists paint murals across Victoria

Sixteen murals are spread out across downtown Victoria as part of the ‘concrete canvas’ project

Pet-A-Palooza a good reason to ‘pawse’ this weekend in Victoria

Puppies, goats, wiener dog races and more on the grounds of St. Ann’s Academy Aug. 18-19

UVic art display showcases craft of bookmaking

Art of the Book 2018 is in the Audain Gallery at UVic from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Aug. 11

Celebrate local food with Feast of Fields in North Saanich

21st Feast of Fields on Vancouver Island is at Kildara Farms on Aug. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m.

RIFFLANDIA: Local artists thrive under festival model

Bands like Current Swell, one of the 2018 headliners, made their mark at RAP

Updated: ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

REVIEW: Ever wanted to be young again? Theatre Skam’s Concord Floral will make you think again

Strong acting in an interesting theatre space, writes Sheila Martindale

Brad Pitt says he has given Jolie Pitt millions since split

Actor Brad Pitt denies Angelina Jolie Pitt’s claim that he has paid no meaningful child support.

WINE LOVERS UNITE: Victoria festival offers numerous tasting options

Parkside Hotel and Spa hosting Victoria International Wine Festival

Farquhar Auditorium updates image for 40th season

The Farquhar at UVic ushers in new season Sept. 22

THEATRE SKAM: Young cast brings Concord Floral to life in vacant downtown retail space

Former office supply store a unique venue for telling mysterious tale of youth with secrets

5 things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Check out dragon Boats, artists, football and more

Most Read