Joanna at The New Theatre


After the grisly suicide of Sharon, her grieving sister Nadine and best friend Maria devise a plan to enact vengeance on the tormentors responsible for her death. Joanna is a play about injustice, abuse and vigilante vengeance – when the two young women embroil themselves with killer-for-hire Joanna, they are faced with far more than they bargained for. Joanna seamlessly blends Celtic imagery and themes deeply rooted in the Irish psyche with a brutal cinematic sensibility – as Joanna ruthlessly dissects the guilty limb from limb, so does the play attempt to take apart the nature of justice, the social contract and what happens when that contract falls apart.

Relying on a sparse set, Sharpson’s wit alone conjures for us a world where wrongdoing is ruthlessly repaid in blood, and moral absolutes are forced upon our unsuspecting protagonists. Wrongs will be righted, though they may not like the means. The crux of the play rests on Paddy-Jo Malpas’ fearsome and fearless portrayal of the aforementioned Joanna: deeply cruel, devoid of compassion and fiercely righteous, while also perfectly pleasant company over a cup of English tea. Malpas’ turn as Joanna seems to carry a certain weight of wisdom, the one character capable of glaring unflinchingly at truth while Nadine and Maria struggle to come to terms with what has been done and their part in it.

Sharp, bold and searingly relevant in a country so steeped in sexual abuse, Joanna packs a punch that will leave you short of breath for days.

Gillian Greer

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