SALT LAKE CITY — Mother of the Maid, a play by Jane Anderson, first produced off-Broadway at the public in 2018 with Glenn Close, comes to Utah at Pygmalion Productions in Downtown Salt Lake City. Directed by Teresa Sanderson, the show follows the life of the mother of Joan of Arc, Isabelle, played by April Fossen, a humble woman who tries to navigate the challenges of having a child with a larger-than-life ambition and calling.

Entering the black box at the Rose, the audience is greeted with the remarkably realistic scenic design by Allen Smith. The stage is a simple stone with archways, a cross in the middle, and it transitions well from a home, to a court, to a church, to even a prison cell, with unique lighting by designer Pilar Davis and a careful attention to sound design by Troy Klee. All of these technical designs added a great deal to the ambiance of 15th century France however my favorite elements were the costume design by Andrea Davenport and hair and makeup which was uncredited in the program. Because Joan of Arc, played by Addie Bowler, and her family were of humble working circumstances, I truly appreciated the costumes and makeup matching this, with skirts having dirt on the hems, and dirt on the arms and hands. Having seen far too many shows that ignore the realities of life before modern plumbing, the realistic portrayal of Sanderson’s Mother of the Maid was refreshing.

The realism was continued in the performance of Fossen as Isabelle. Because much of recorded history is through the lens of those who had the privilege of education, much of what transpired between the family of Joan of Arc is mere speculation. The experience of parenting such a figure is not something we can ever know, yet the performance of Fossen was believable enough to help one think this could have been how it went down. Matthew Ivan Bennett as Jacques, the father of Joan, a man who is protective, questioning, and concerned, also offered an excellent experience of what might have been going on in the mind of a family thrown into the spotlight and chaos of a war-torn country.

Bowler as Joan was a fascinating take and a great reminder that the historical figure was, in fact, just a child. The innocence with which Bowler played the character was breathtaking, and the moving way in which she and Fossen played the difficult role of mother and teenage child was inspiring. As a mother of two teenage girls, the connections of beauty, difficulty, fear, and lack of control were ever present within the script and direction of the show.

Side characters Pierre, brother to Joan, played by Alvaro Cortez, Father Gilbert, played by Jesse Nepivoda, and Lady Nicole, played by Jensie Anderson, rounded out the production quite well. Each player also served as filler characters when needed and transitioned within their roles with grace. The interactions with Anderson and Fossen pushed through the theme of the difference between court life and humble working life in a perfect way. The family dynamics and discussions with Cortez, Fossen, and Bennett held exactly the right amount of drama and suspense. While the records of history do show us that Joan of Arc had parents and siblings, it is again curiosity that leaves us to wonder how these relationships and interactions played out, and the characterizations that each of the players in this production as directed by Sanderson have given the audience wonderful food for thought on the matter.

As quickly as history embraced Joan of Arc as a hero and savior, they just as quickly turned against her. The haunting direction of the ending of this story, and the way the story handles the recorded fact that Isabelle did spend her life trying to clear the name of her daughter was beautiful. Fossen’s performance of a mother who never gave up on her daughter was one that is worthy of recognition and praise on larger scales if those existed in regional theatre in ways that they do on the national stage. As she stood alone on the stage at the end of the show, one could hear the tears and sniffles from others around the room. We have no idea what the real Mother of the Maid felt, but it is not hard to imagine that Fossen likely reflected some of the accurate experiences on the Rose stage.


Mother of Maid plays Thursdays-Sundays at various times through May 18th at the Rose Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake City, 138 W Broadway, SLC, Utah, 84101. Tickets are $15-22.50. For more information see