The Maids is a perplexing and perverted depiction of familial and servile relationships. The Maids tells the story of two sisters so disgusted by the excesses of their mistress that they seek to ruin her life and then kill her. Christopher Adam’s interpretation of The Maids fulfils all expectations of eccentricity. The proximity of the actors in the Michael Pilch Studio is not only unnerving but also enticing, drawing you in to the strange and sadistic games of the sisters, Solange and Claire.
The relationship demonstrated by Zoe Bullock, who plays the role of Solange, and Hannah Gliksten, who plays Claire, is fascinating and disturbing. They illustrate perfectly the unconditional love that the sisters have for each other and the deep hatred that they share for their mistress, and paradoxically for each other.
Particularly unsettling was how close the actors came to each other when indulging in their role plays. Gliksten and Bullock often came face to face and seemed to be continuously stroking or beating each other. At points during the preview the actors played on the ambiguity between love and hate, creating an air of incestuous sexual tension between Claire and Solange. This atmosphere of corruption was both intriguing and distressing and kept a structurally simple play interesting.
Although the preview only showed me a couple of scenes and the play was still at an early stage in rehearsals, it was clear that The Maids has the potential to be a thoroughly stimulating play. The tension between the characters is presented exceptionally; the acting superb.
Personally, I found the ability of Gliksten and Bullock to play the mistress and each others’ characters remarkable. Not only was Gliksten able to demonstrate the differences between Claire and Madame but she also skilfully exposed Claire’s decline into panic and chaos. Alice Porter was also convincing in her portrayal of Madame. Porter juggled the flagrant deficiencies of her character with obvious vulnerability and hints of kindness beneath the cruelty.
Unfortunately, as the cast are still two weeks away from their first performance, I was not able to see the set in all its glory. The Michael Pilch Studio is due to go through a transformation before eighth week, with many more props yet to arrive or even be made. The director enthused about the web that will be draped around the stage and infiltrated with props that hint at the devilish actions of the maids. Adams also explained that a huge flour circle that will be created in the middle of the stage.
Even with an incomplete set, it was clear that the play had potential. With the addition of extra props to emphasise the themes of betrayal and suspicion the play will be captivating for its audience.The Maids will be a t hought-provoking play, but be warned, it may haunt you afterwards.