Four years ago Paul Mason Barnes directed a near-perfect production of the Irish play Stones in His Pockets on the Rep mainstage. Two months later Tarah Flanagan delivered a memorably complex portrayal of a rookie cop in the Rep Studio's Lobby Hero. Now the Rep has sent these two supreme artists on a journey to scale the summit that is Saint Joan, George Bernard Shaw's meshing of biography and legend about Joan of Arc, the teen miracle worker who drove the English invaders from France, only to be burned at the stake on a trumped-up charge of heresy. The measure of Flanagan's guileless performance is that it doesn't feel like a performance. Joan is by turns ordinary, remarkable, fearless, bewildered, shrewd, dispirited. All these traits pass through Flanagan's eyes and essence, but as if instinctively. Barnes has surrounded her with a polished and (perhaps too) sumptuous production. In a large cast, Bobby Steggert's craven Dauphin is a fun spoof of early Peter Ustinov. Although there's no escaping the evening's cerebral verbosity, whenever Flanagan is holding court Saint Joan emanates a degree of humanity that is rare in Shaw. Produced by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through February 1 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $14.50 to $65 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $10 and $15, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org.
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