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

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…