JOAN presented by by Cressida Peever
What Is It?
JOAN is a brand new audio drama written by Cressida Peever, directed by Katharine Farmer and performed by Stephanie Booth.
What Is It About?
JOAN follows the young titular character as she strives to make her mark on the world and change it for the better. But the stresses of school and the fear of failing to gain entry into Oxbridge loom large in Joan’s loftily ambitious life, and when her plans to visit Oxford University are scuppered by her Mum’s diagnosis of high blood pressure, her dreams seem even more remote. Yet, everything changes after Joan posts on TikTok about her Mother’s never ending schedule of cooking, cleaning and caring, the majority of which goes unpaid. The post goes viral, and Joan is pulled into the debate of unequal pay and the gender disparities around domestic work and familial care, propelling her into the world of social and political activism. But as her dreams of changing the world begin to come true, her relationship with her Mother becomes strained and fractured, leaving Joan with some tough decisions to make.
How Did It Make Me Feel?
The inherent powerlessness that has come with this pandemic is something that powerfully resonants within this audio drama. Across the globe, we find ourselves in a situation we cannot control, and while the theatre industry suffers under the financial pressures this crisis has brought in its wake, artists are still finding unique ways in which to create and share their work in an accessible way through these socially distanced times. JOAN achieves these creative feats with assured confidence.
This is a well conceived adaptation from a live stage performance to a recorded audio performance. The sound design by Writer Cressida Peever and Director Katharine Farmer strongly evokes the settings and atmosphere of the piece with precision while Stephanie Booth’s performance is both arresting and impactful. Booth brings Joan’s inner turmoil to life with conviction and clarity, defining Joan’s distinctive voice through a carefully crafted performance.
However, while Joan is a somewhat relatable and well intentioned young figure, the play falls short of allowing any intensive exploration of the subject matter it intends to examine. The intersectionality between class, race and gender are left somewhat unaddressed with regards to the re-evaluation of under or unpaid domestic work, causing Joan’s movement to seem somewhat one dimensional and simplistic. Though Joan is pulled into activism via her Mother’s experiences of being an overworked single mother, the bond between these two women is never given the weight it needs for the play’s final moments to land with emotional resonance. Not enough time is afforded for the emotional and political depths of this piece to really take root, and while it is an enjoyable hour of entertainment which does provoke some thought, it needs to be given more time to give JOAN’s subject matter the attention it deserves.
An enjoyable piece of audio drama in these troubling times, but one that does not quite hit home with the political resonance it intends.
JOAN is available on Apple Podcasts now.
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