Review: THE MAIDS
Weird yet wonderful, is the perhaps oversimplified yet surprisingly apt way to articulate the experience of The Maids.
1 hour and 45 minutes of building tension, panic and hatred- with no intermission and you do leave feeling as though you have experienced something. Like a neighbour peering into the big house where the dark tale takes place, you feel you have been a witness to the tragedy. Not only the crimes talked about and committed by the two least docile and servile maids I’ve ever seen acted, but in the command three women had over the stage such that props were more ornamental than necessary and so were duly minimal and you feel no loss at having only seen 3 actors all night; because those three actors pull off a wondrous task. Zawe Ashton is transformed as Claire, the younger, weaker sister whose character is so wonderfully simple in her complexity. Uzo, not only proved that she can do crazy just as well without the eyes but showed that beyond comedy she is a larger than life actress that had me captivated for the duration, as she lead the audience much as she lead her sister. Laura Carmicheal’s role is fleeting but adds some much needed levity while still building the mounting suspense.
What begins with a scene that was easily the most fun I’ve had in a theatre in a long time; Zawe Ashton in drag like make up, a blonde wig and a flowing 19th century gown dancing around in a blizzard of falling rose petals, quickly becomes an almost uncomfortable watch as X-rated language and sexual themes are thrown around without warning and without reservation- but even that is quite fun really isn’t it?
This is a must see production, if only because it will leave you with so much to talk about the next day. But what’s more is that underneath all those X-rated elements is a wonderfully constructed tragedy of almost Shakespearean proportions. It’s an all girl band and it’s a sure fire way to lose yourself in another world for a couple of hours. What more could you ask than that?