Most persons are familiar with the story of Joan of Arc, so it is necessary only to say that this is a play within a play, the outer play (as it were) showing a group of actors in rehearsal on a bare stage, preparing to produce a Joan of Arc play. The story of Joan's visions and pilgrimage to court, her restoring faith to the French and the victory she wins, are beautifully dramatized. But Anderson has woven into the Joan story a parallel action, which takes place outside the Joan play proper, in which he shows the meaning of faith today and the necessity of believing in something. The actress who plays Joan claims that the role should show her never compromising her ideals, and she is ready to leave the cast because she thinks the part and the direction of herself shows Joan doing just that. But she learns, from her director and fellow players, that life is a series of compromises, and that she herself, as an actress, like the historical Joan, can and should give in on small things in order to achieve the greatest good in a larger sense. In acting her part through to the end, she learns the lesson that Joan taught the world, of great faith and idealism, tempered by reality and the acceptance of the necessary limitations which are in all of us.
One of the author's most beautiful works.