Skip to main content

The Maids

Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Three stars

Judging by the level of activity at Assembly Roxy just now, one could be forgiven for presuming Edinburgh Festival Fringe season had come even earlier than usual. In actual fact the seventeen shows crammed in across three spaces in the Venue over the next few days make up the second Formation festival. Founded by the Edinburgh-based Annexe Repertory Theatre earlier this year, Formation is designed to provide a platform for some of the city’s younger theatre companies. It also fills the void left by the demise of Discover 21, the bijou basement space formerly housed in St Margaret’s House.

While much of the programme focuses on new work, including spoken-word and script-in-hand scratch performances, this time out Formation is also looking at the edgier end of the classical canon. In this way, Jean Genet’s three-handed look at power, class and below-stairs frustration lends itself naturally to such intimate productions as the one director Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir has pulled together. Having such a young cast play the two maids who play-act killing their mistress every day too lends an extra potency to the play’s brutal dissection of their Madame’s everyday privilege. As sisters Solange and Claire, they try on long-envied personalities using jewel-studded masks as much as lavish remnants from their mistress’s wardrobe.

Heather Milne and Abigail Sinclair revel in the opportunity to be so out-and-out poisonous as Solange and Claire, even as they are bought off by Christine Koudreiko’s Madame with the furs and finery they have already privately taken advantage of. It is as if the sisters are occupying a bunker-like boudoir not even murder can free them from, while Madame can swan off on a whim to meet her lover, who has just been released from prison.

Running over a whip-smart and elegant eighty minutes, Sigfusdottir’s production goes straight for the jugular without fuss. Even as the siblings skirt around the consequences of whatever action they might take, the result draws out all the unfulfilled desire that forms the heart of a vicious and intense study of how the other half lives and dies.

The Herald, July 9th 2018
Ends





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…

Pauline Knowles - An Obituary

Pauline Knowles – Actress
Born December 16 1967; died October 17 2018
Pauline Knowles, who has died suddenly of a heart attack aged 50, was one of the most powerful stage actresses of her generation. Over more than twenty years, Knowles brought a quiet intensity and fierce intelligence to every part she played. This was the case when she played the barely articulate rural woman in Philip Howard’s original 1995 Traverse Theatre production of David Harrower’s modern classic, Knives in Hens. It was still the case when Knowles gave a ferociously contemporary portrayal of Clytemnestra in This Restless House, Zinnie Harris’ stunning reinvention of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy directed by Dominic Hill at the Citizens Theatre with the National Theatre of Scotland twenty-one years later.
Knowles occupied both roles with an innate sense of each woman’s everyday ordinariness in ways that made their experiences totally recognisable. As a result, however extreme their actions and however powerful the…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…