The Maids

Jean Genet’s classic play, based on the true story of two maids brutally murdering their mistress, is produced by All Bare Theatre in this rarely performed adaptation by Martin Crimp.

Though the acting is solid and the words are brilliant, this bold choice of play falls flat in this disappointing, unimaginative production.

This is a play full of questions about illusion and reality, authority and abuse, and the power of performance. While the mistress is away, the sisters take it in turns pretending to be her, dressing up in her clothes and jewels and treating the other sister like vermin – until the sister eventually snaps. This sadomasochistic ritual makes the play endlessly fascinating on a variety of levels; however, this underwhelming production doesn’t do it justice.

Yasmin Freeman as Solange and Kay Dent as Claire give reasonable performances, but the dynamic between them never feels convincing enough. The play’s see-sawing exchange of power requires a tightly-formed relationship between the two sisters, which this production unfortunately lacks. It is a relief when Georgia Bradley comes onstage as the mistress and picks up the pace of the production. Her performance is measured and lively – easily the star of the show.

The show is bogged down visually with an ineffective and seemingly arbitrary lighting design. Unnecessary projections of flowers and windowpanes, though intended for a screen, end up on the actor’s faces. This makes the production feel clumsy and distracts during certain scenes, which would otherwise have been emotionally intense. There is a strange clicking sound which pops up from time to time, which I initially thought was an outside sound, but came to realise is an intentional part of the show. I think this may have been an attempt to make the scenes pacier or to represent the ticking of a clock but in fact, it is just pretty annoying.

Though the acting is solid and the words are brilliant, this bold choice of play falls flat in this disappointing, unimaginative production.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Role-play never hurt anyone, right? Two maids play a game of murder. Their mistress doesn't know the half of it. All-female company present a fierce, visceral production of Genet's iconoclast drama, in a biting translation by Martin Crimp.

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