The class struggle is an innate part of Jean Genet’s The Maids but the mark of many a good drama that has endured for several decades is its ability to handle new interpretations by the directors who seek to revive them. Jamie Lloyd refracted the play through the lens of American racial politics for his visually striking production at the Trafalgar Studios earlier this year and ever the iconoclast, Katie Mitchell, making her directorial debut at Toneelgroep Amsterdam, chooses to put a migrant labour spin on her more naturalistic version.
So sisters Claire and Solange here are middle-aged Polish women – underpaid, underappreciated and in at least one case, really quite ill – who have found work keeping house for Madame, or rather keeping her super-luxe apartment. The relationship is a complex one though as we see them passing the time by enacting and re-enacting the ritualistic murder of their employer, raging against the system in the only way that they can – in secret, in private, away from the eyes of a Western society that doesn’t really give a fuck when it is oppressing. Continue reading “Review: De Meiden, Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam”
“You don’t know what I am capable of”
Relocated to a contemporary USA and with two women of colour playing the servants, Jamie Lloyd’s version of Jean Genet’s The Maids becomes just as much about race as it does about class and incredibly powerfully so. The ‘otherness’, the ‘difference’ of which sisters Solange and Claire speak as they twist themselves into increasingly sadomasochistic games thus plays at an additional level and at the point when their socialite employer Madam casually, cruelly, asks Claire “which one are you, you both look the same to me”, it lands with an absolute gut-punch.
Loosely based on the real-life story of sisters Léa and Christine Papin who murdered their employer’s wife and daughter in 1933, years of servitude have similarly done for Uzo Aduba’s Solange and Zawe Ashton’s Claire. Whilst their mistress is out, they play vicious divertissements of dress-up in her couture gowns, roleplaying both her and each other in scenarios that end in violent death. And as eventually becomes apparent in the vibrant and salty language of Benedict Andrews and Andrew Upton’s translation, what we’re actually witnessing is less a game than a rehearsal for the real thing. Continue reading “Review: The Maids, Trafalgar Studios”
Blood and Gifts – Produced by Lincoln Center Theater; Written by J. T. Rogers
Milk Like Sugar – Produced by Playwrights Horizons and Women’s Project Theater; Written by Kirsten Greenidge
Sons of the Prophet – Produced by Roundabout Theatre Company; Written by Stephen Karam
The Big Meal – Produced by Playwrights Horizons; Written by Dan LeFranc
The School For Lies – Produced by Classic Stage Company; Written by David Ives
Once – Produced by New York Theatre Workshop; Book by Enda Walsh, Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
Queen of the Mist – Produced by Transport Group; Words and Music by Michael John LaChiusa
SILENCE! The Musical – Produced by Victoria Lang, Rich Affannato, Donna Trinkoff in association with Scott Kirschenbaum, Theater Mogul, Kitefliers Studio, Terry Schnuck and John Arthur Pinckard; Music and Lyrics by Jon Kaplan and Al Kaplan, Book by Hunter Bell, Adapted from the screenplay Silence! The Musical by Jon and Al Kaplan
The Blue Flower – Produced by Second Stage Theatre ; By Jim Bauer and Ruth Bauer
The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World – Produced by Playwrights Horizons and New York Theatre Workshop; Book by Joy Gregory, Music by Gunnar Madsen, Lyrics by Joy Gregory and Gunnar Madsen, Story by Joy Gregory, Gunnar Madsen, and John Langs Continue reading “Nominations for 2012 Lucille Lortel Awards”