The Maids

Sunday, 6 July, 1997

The story concerns two sisters, ‘Claire’ and ‘Solange’ , maids who fantasise and act out the intended murder of their mistress. However, their attempts to act out their fantasy becomes dangerously out of control.

The play is without doubt a psychological one, but the problem is, we never get to know why the maids actually wish to murder their mistress. I mean, the mistress does not come across as a particularly cruel person.

The subject matter has the potential to make a great and interesting play, but this never materialises. The writing is not inventive enough and lacks any kind of suspense.

The acting though is superb by all, particularly Kerry Fox as ‘Solange’ who plays the most disturbed sister, she could change from being naive to being quite ruthless very effectively. Niamh Cusack is also competent in her role as the weaker of the two maids. Josette Simon is just as convincing and at times quite comical as ‘Our Lady’, the Mistress.

The popular press were not overjoyed with the production either. BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE of THE TIMES is a little luke warm, saying " The one strong performance comes from Josette Simon as a mistress whose smug serenity occasionally cracks, revealing the arrogance and shrill contempt beneath. But is that enough to justify the evening? I fear not." KATE BASSATT in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says "This production's strength is the clarity with which it charts the maids' shifting interactions as they slip between pretending games and brutal reality in David Rudkin's highly stylised translation." MICHAEL COVENEY of THE DAILY MAIL remarks "Jean Genet's hypnotic play has lost none of its power to beguile or disturb”, and NICHOLAS DE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD described the play as a "musty, static old piece." BILL HAGERTY of THE NEWS OF THE WORLD says “ Religiously avoid it”. This advice I think you should take!

In all, a play that I’m sure many will be disappointed with , but at least there is some fine acting to be admired.

(Darren Dalglish)

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