MOXIE Theatre Leads Southern California Premiere of Jane Anderson's MOTHER OF THE MAID

Majestically Staged. Not To Be Missed. 

Jennifer Eve Thorn is Isabelle Arc in Mother of the Maid. Photo Desireé Clarke
Joan of Arc, a young 17-year-old French woman with humble origins, suddenly receives visions from saints and archangels that reveal that she is the chosen one to recover France from the English domination. In a time-lapse of around two years, Arc goes to battle, leads a successful army, and gets Charles the crown, to then being captured, accused of heresy, and burned at the stake. She was only 19.

There is definitely a before and after in theatre and content regarding the COVID 19 pandemic. I felt that when theatres started coming back around July of 2021, I found the content selection to be somewhat -weird-. Instead of happy, celebratory pieces, many of them were hardcore, heavy labyrinths that did not feel necessarily welcoming. We react to an artform according to how we are feeling at the time and at what stage we are in life. Maybe theatres were choosing these pieces because of the -weird- times and feelings. Where am I going with this ramble? Well, as the month of May rolls over, the month that houses mother's day, I consider the play Mother of the Maid to be a fitting one. MOXIE Theatre is leading the Southern California premiere of Jane Anderson's piece that not only shines a light on Joan of Arc's story and unjust murder but, a light on Isabelle Arc, her mother. 

Zack King and Mikaela Rae Macias in Mother of the Maid. Photo Desireé Clarke
The production has a couple of debuts that are right on the money as well as stellar lighting and sound design. Desireé Clarke in her directorial debut with MOXIE did a wonderful job with the whole cast but truly found the "Isabelle soul" in Jennifer Thorn who is fantastic as the Maid's mother. This role brought the woman, the mother, the actress, and the storyteller all together in Thorn delivering a mature, grounded performance, reflecting a detailed curation from mannerisms to glances, winks, and specific tones. I found simple gestures to be so meaningful, like the way she looks at Joan, Joannie as she calls her while grabbing a stool to hold a bucket of wool and clean it parting a gorgeous, seemingly heavy cotton skirt, a piece of Courtney Ohnstad's on-point costume design. It is always the simple things that round out greatness. 

The rapport between Jennifer and Mikaela Rae Macias in her MOXIE debut as Joan Arc was totally pure. Macias moves around gracefully on stage and looks at the audience with intention and depth while delivering those stellarly written lines explaining her visions of Saint Catherine, not being interested in boys, and knowing she will not make a good wife.  Macias makes it look easy when it is the opposite. What better way to appreciate theatre than with a well-written play and solid acting. 

Jennifer Eve Thorn and Dave Rivas in Mother of the Maid.
Photo Desireé Clarke

Dave Rivas in his portrayal as the patriarch Jacques Arc in the first act is strong and dark with tints of macho, very fitting for those times. In the second act, we see a concerned, scared, grieving father desperately searching for his daughter's well-being, asking all the right questions to Father Gilbert (Mark C. Petrich) who weather vane's between the first and second act by supporting Joan's visions and then dismissing or questioning them. Zack King as Joan's brother and combat partner, Pierre Arc brings a bit of comedic balm and lightness to the piece also engaging in great rapport with Mikaela. Sarah Alida LeClair as Lady of the Court is total entertaining royalty speaking from her privilege full of ignorance yet, innocent. Also flaunting a gorgeous purple sheen gown and Sergio Diaz-Delgado works two sides well as the unphased Scribe first to then provoke the audience even more with his delivery of the cruel and careless guard. Diaz-Delgado is also Assistant Stage Manager for the play, talk about versatility.

Yi-Chien Lee's set design, all in one, transforms the Arc's home into a French castle to then the prison where Joan lives  her last days. Towards the end, we see that there are two wide doors that open on the stage and accentuate Joan's confinement as well as Isabelle's closing monologue. Annelise Salazar's stellar lighting design sets and boosts every scene using mostly what would seem a chiaroscuro technique, contrasting light with shadow and adding maple colors. It is like a Rembrandt painting coming to life. Sound designer Rachel Levine crafted a SICK soundtrack that plays through the piece with instrumental and contemporary adaptations of songs like Cindy Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Linkin Park's In the End, and The White Stripes Seven Nation Army amongst several other musical gems. This is brilliant.

Sergio Diaz-Delgado and Sarah Alida LeClair in Mother of the Maid.
Photo Desireé Clarke
Credit where credit is due and MOXIE Theatre's production of Mother of the Maid is one that, should not be missed also leading by, and with example as a nonprofit theatre company boosting young, diverse talent both on and off the stage as well as supporting the community by offering 15 dollar rush tickets to every performance AND setting aside 10 free tickets each performance for people who cannot afford it at that time. I have seen no other company do this and I think more should follow. In the meantime, this information should continue to be shared and boosted.

I saw this play by coincidence with my mother. I can assure you it hit differently.

Mother of the Maid is currently playing at the Rolando venue until May 22. For more information, ticket prices, and performance times, click HERE.

Other Design and Production Team members for this production include Stage Manager: Megan Ames, Props Designer: Amy Chini, Technical Director: Nathan Waits, Scenic Artist: Julie Lorenz, and Production Managers: Megan Ames & Nicole Ries.


  1. This review claims the play "shines a light on Joan of Arc's story", but the playwright admitted the play isn't even intended to be historical, and in fact it often bears virtually no resemblance to history aside from the overall outline. The play (and review) claim Joan of Arc "led" the army, which is contradicted by her own statements at her trial, the Royal military records, and eyewitness accounts (she was a religious visionary, not a commander). It implies Joan fought in combat although she emphatically denied that during the fourth session of her trial. The play turns Joan and her family into crude caricatures (many reviews compared the characters to "Ma Kettle") while using copious profanity despite the fact that the many eyewitness accounts make it clear that Joan certainly didn't speak that way and her parents almost certainly didn't either. The play's portrayal of Joan's interaction with St. Catherine bears very little resemblance to her actual description during her trial. The trial was orchestrated by the English government and their collaborators (as is proven by English government records: e.g. the judge, Pierre Cauchon, was an advisor for the English occupation government) and the charges were deliberately false according to the many eyewitnesses who were there. Her family wasn't there during her trial and execution since the trial was conducted deep behind English lines. There was, as the play says, a postwar appeal of her case in the 1450s which resulted in the verdict being overturned two years before her mother Isabelle died, but Isabelle didn't personally march across the Alps to lecture the Pope about conducting an investigation (that was done by the Chief Inquisitor, Jehan Brehal). Isabelle didn't lose her faith or show anger towards God (as the play implies) since there is ample evidence to the contrary, including (ironically) the very speech she gave at the beginning of the appellate trial which this play briefly quotes ("I had a daughter...") since the full text of the speech indicates devotion to God and the Church while blaming only the English. In short, the play does a disservice to the actual people by inverting their personalities and circumstances and turning them into rather crude stereotypes.

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