Saint Joan

Director Matthew Kellen Burgos’ staging of George Bernard Shaw’s powerful opus is a worthy if workmanlike production focusing on Shaw’s debates on topics as diverse as class, nationalism and gender equality. This often comes at the cost of the play’s delicate layers of wit and irony, which frequently seem, well, “shaved” off. In 15th-century France, Joan (Dawn Davis), a farmer’s simple daughter, hears saintly voices in her head, and she follows their advice, convincing the local feudal lord (Sam R. Ross) to allow her to command an army that restores the mousy Dauphin (Tom Fornss) to his throne. However, the church disapproves of Joan’s independence — and she finds herself being tried for heresy by a sanctimonious cleric (Joseph A. Cincotti, nicely stentorian), who tries to make her the main dish on the rotisserie, served medium rare. Some productions of Shaw have a tendency to drone, but Burgos keeps things simmering along with urgent intensity. If there’s a weakness, it’s that too many members of the ensemble favor a bawling, declamatory acting style that tilts toward the robotic. Although Davis’ Joan is sometimes overly perky, making her more Starbucks barista than Maid of Orleans, her increasing bewilderment and desperation are haunting. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: April 17. Continues through May 25, 2008