Last night I went to see Dark and Stormy Production’s latest show, The Maids, an English translation of Jean Genet’s most popular work. This play got under my skin, I can't stop thinking about it. It is not uncommon for me to feel this way, one of the reasons that I love theater is the way it can stay with you after you leave the physical theater. This weight, or lingering feeling stems from two things about the production, firstly the incredible performances by all involved, and secondly my confusion of what I just saw, I can’t say in detail what the play was about.
I am not a person who sits well with the unknown, yet Jean Genet’s play The Maids leaves you with a lot of questions, and unfortunately for me Wikipedia was not able to fill in any blanks. What I can tell you is The Maids if a play about two sisters who are maids and work for Madame. They are not fond of Madame and when she is gone they play out fantasies, taking turns in the role of maid and mistress, with the end goal playing out the murder of Madame. But so far the time that they have available has not allowed them to get that far. There is also a back story that is often referenced but never made clear. Lastly you are never quite sure if the characters are themselves or playing someone else. As you can imagine all of this can lead to quite a bit of confusion.
When you are feeling this confused it helps to continue to be drawn to the show, which I felt at every moment. Dark and Stormy’s space in the artspace building is very intimate, the story at times can be just inches away from you. The performances, as I mentioned earlier were all phenomenal. Sara Marsh is fierce as Solange, the oldest sister, constantly scheming and full of hate, but also caring towards her younger sister. Jane Froiland’s performance as Claire, the younger of the sisters, was a wonder to watch. Her ability to express so much with so little, a subtle facial expression or gesture fit so well in Dark and Stormy’s intimate space and brought the entire performance to a new level. Emily Bridges as Madame was both sympathetic and demanding and I only wish that we were able to see more of her on stage.
The Maids is not a peaceful show, I would not be properly describing the show if I did not mention that there is a significant amount of violence. Fight director Annie Enneking brought this portion of the show to life in a very real way that added the weight of the show.
I am still not completely sure of what I saw on Thursday night. I know that it was a show called The Maids, with amazing performances, that takes a look at class struggles and frustration in a violent way.
If you like incredible performances and are drawn to plays that fit in the genre of theater of the absurd then get to Dark and Stormy Productions to see The Maids, running until February 17th.
Click here to find more information about getting tickets.
*Photo Credit: Rich Ryan, first photo: Jane Froiland and Sara Marsh, second photo: Emily Bridges and Sara Marsh.