Sunday, October 28, 2012

Those Twisted Sisters, THE MAIDS, Open at ISU on Thursday

Are you ready for The Maids? Is anybody ever ready for The Maids?

Jean Genet's play is provocative and disturbing, centering on sisters Claire and Solange, poor, lowly housemaids who work for wealthy Madame. When Madame is away, the maids will play, concocting sadomasochistic games around the mistress/servant relationship. First Claire dons powder, rouge and lingerie to impersonate Madame, verbally eviscerating her sister in her role as maid until the clock runs out on Round I. Then Solange turns the tables and pretends to murder Madame as portrayed by Claire. And when Madame comes home, the game enters a new phase, as real poison and real betrayal come into play.

There are issues of identity, power, repression, sex and class all over The Maids, making it a very dark and dramatic psychodrama in the right hands.

Vanessa Stalling is in charge of the Illinois State University production that opens November 1, with a cast that includes Fiona Stephens and Elizabeth Dillard as Claire and Solange, and Tam Dickson as Madame. You may remember Stephens, who was terrific in last season's Cloud Nine, and Dillard from her memorable turn as a different kind of sister in The Marriage of Bette and Boo.

If you're intrigued, here's a little more info from ISU's Facebook page for these Maids:

First performed in Paris in 1947, The Maids provoked cries of outrage as it swerved from realism to melodrama — the maids plan a poisonous tea party for their mistress — to comic absurdity to madness. Over the course of his life Genet was a thief, prostitute, prisoner, poet, novelist, playwright, daring voice of homoeroticism and champion of the oppressed. In her review of a production of The Maids critic Rosie Dow wrote, “The colorful but troubled life of Jean Genet weeps out of every word of this play, and it’s not the thing to go and see if your established theatre comfort zone is a few chuckles and a happy ending.”

The Maids plays November 1-4 and 6-10 in Centennial West 207, with performances Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and matinees at 2 pm on the 4th and 10th.

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