Mother of the Maid – A Mother/Daughter Tale

Mothers and teenage daughters — relationships fraught with eye-rolling, sighing and lots of love. And in depicting Joan of Arc as a teenage girl trying to explain her path to her mother, Mother of the Maid takes a fresh take on the life of the saint and injects some humor into her legend.

It doesn’t hurt that the mother, Isabelle Arc, is played by Glenn Close. As a peasant who is at turns bewildered and proud of her daughter’s mission, Close is a doubter who becomes a passionate advocate and ultimately a mother who has to lose a daughter. The play is at its best in the exchanges between Close and Grace Van Patten as Joan. While Dermot Crowley as Joan’s father has a heartbreaking turn at the end, I felt the exchanges between him and Joan’s brother to be too colloquial and bordering on slapstick.

There are a number of other scenes that make the play drag. The country bumpkin theme is hammered home when Isabelle is brought to the court and served honey meade in a glass (!), and later when the entire family is wowed by the court’s surroundings. But Close brings spirit and strength to her performance and the play puts a different spin on the lore. AFW

Anspacher Theater @ The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street

Ticket prices: $95-$150

Discounts:  None currently available

Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes, 1 intermission

Runs thru: December 23

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