THE MAIDS, by French dramatist Jean Genet, is now in repertory at A Noise Within (ANW) as part of its 25th anniversary season. Here is your opportunity to see this rarely-produced play, directed by Stephanie Shroyer. It will perform through Nov. 12, 2016.
In THE MAIDS, two sisters, Solange and Claire, work in service of a wealthy woman they refer to only as “Madame.” While Madame is away, the two women play out meticulous scenes, fantasizing about how they will ultimately murder her. Half way through the play, the sisters decide that Madame must be killed that night. They prepare a poisonous tea but in the end fail to make her drink it. Still, somebody will die. Genet loosely based this play on an infamous 1933 murder case, when two sisters, Christine and Lea Papin, brutally murdered their employer, Madame Lancelin, and her daughter. Although those real life maids never revealed the motive for their actions, in the public’s eye theirs was a tale of rebellion by the oppressed working class against their oppressors.
At ANW, THE MAIDS cast consists of three actors – Donnla Hughes as Solange, Jaimi Paige as Claire, and Emily Kosloski as Madame. Two additional characters, Monsieur and Mario the Milkman, are often discussed but don’t appear on stage. When the play first opens, the maids are moving about Madame’s bedroom, trying on her clothes, her bed, talking about their desire to kill her, interacting sometimes as normal siblings would, and at others rather questionably. Hughes and Paige maintain well the back-and-forth dialogue, at times joined by Kosloski, that continues for 90-minutes without an intermission.
The set and costumes for this production are beautiful. The audience looks from behind the headboard of Madame’s gorgeous bed, and along with the maids enjoys the contents of Madame’s closet. The lighting is subdued to keep the tone of this dark play, which is so even in its humorous moments.
THE MAIDS allows you to watch behind someone’s closed doors and listen to their most ingrained frustrations. You see the main characters walk a confused tightrope between love and hate for their superior and agonize over a position in life that came simply from the accident (and in Madame’s case, the luck) of being born who they were. It gives food for thought in a world in which we are so often ruled simply by our circumstances.
Single ticket prices for THE MAIDS start at $44 and can be purchased at ANoiseWithin.org or by calling (626) 356-3100. There will be a post-performance conversation with the actors and director on Fridays Oct. 21 and 28 that is included in the admission ticket.
A Noise Within is located at 3352 East Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena 91107.
Photo: Jaime Paige (Claire) and Donnla Hughes (Solange). Credit: Craig Schwartz.
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