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The Maids

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
Anyone who opens a play with a messy dance of the seven veils set to the high pitched blare of Essential Logic’s under-the-radar post-punk classic Aerosol Burns is onto a winner from the start. This remains so even if the gender-obsessed canon of the band’s even more subversive contemporaries Ludus migt have been more appropriate to Pauline Goldsmith’s cross-dressing Glasgay production of Jean Genet’s nasty little three-hander. Transposed to a vicious Glasgow camp, its pasty-faced combatants resemble escapees from east European shaven-headed ascetics Derevo following a master-class by 1970s drag maestros Bloolips. The class warfare inherent in the piece nevertheless becomes even more pronounced in a series of fantasy power-plays where survival is not so much down to who’s fittest, but who has the glitziest outfits.

Solange and Claire aren’t just raiding Madame’s wardrobe when the play starts, but are expanding on an already elaborate murder plot through a series of increasingly histrionic role-plays. The sisters’ motives may be borne of aspirational envy, but the end result is a coup symbolic of a much bigger peasants’ revolt in what now looks like a far more outrageous pre-cursor to Harold Pinter’s screenplay for The Servant.

As Derek McCluckie’s gangling Solange and William Brennan’s dumpier Claire spar with increasing desperation, Claire at one point is seemingly possessed by the ghost of Kenneth Willliams in a knowing pop cultural nod. When Richard Pears’ Madame does show face, he/she struts on with the airs and graces of Glasgow's answer to Imelda Marcos, with last season’s glad-rags to off-load as she stands by her man no matter what. As power corrupts her successor, more fool her.

The Herald, November 8th 2010

ends

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