Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Maids"

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note: entire contents copyright 2009 by Larry Stark

"The Maids"

by Jean Genet
Directed by Mia Rovegno

Set Design by Tristan Jeffers
Lighting Design by John Eckert
Costume Design by Jenillee Houghton
Sound Design by Matt O'Hare
Props Mistress Nina Alexander
Dramaturg Kristan Seemel
Production Manager Timothey Sullivan
Stage Manager Kate Ferdinandi

Solange....Charise Greene
Claire....Parker Leventer
Madame........Cherie Rice

Karl Gregory, Sam Haley-Hill, Per Janson, Patrick Mulryan, Monica Willey, Gillian Williams, Christopher Berry, Rachel Christopher, Olivia D'Ambrosio, Brandon Drea, Tiffany Greene, Jamey Grisham, Zarina Shea, Terrel Sledge, John Tracey, Rich Williams, Michelle Carriger, Elise Morrison, Kathryn Linder, Eunice Png, Corrie Tan

Jean Genet's is a theater of excess; every character, at every moment, every line, is attempting to outdo everyone else. In addition, characters constantly switch roles or "become" someone else. Just when things approach a bedrock of reality is just the point at which the reverse becomes true. A chameleon crawling across a plaid skirt would have less trouble than a trio of actresses trying to bring his masterpiece "The Maids" to quicksilver life. But the students at the Brown/Trinity Rep Consortium down in Providence have the help of Director Mia Rovegno, who asks incredible energy and dexterity from Charise Greene, Parker Leventer, and Cherie Rice, and the result is probably the best, most astonishing production this play has ever had anywhere.

The maids love/hate their mistress, she loves/paronizes them. They fantasize Being her/poisoning her. They insult/put down one another and when Madame is gone they set an alarm-clock to give each one half an hour to "be" Madame. Practically every line here demands a different, yet appropriate, move/stance/gesture/pout/attitude, and every switch must turn lightning-fast. If this continually inventive cornucopia of contrasts and convolutions weren't kept clear and controlled (and they are!) it would be just so much exhausting chaos; you'd think only a movie could contain it all. How these women maintain a shape to the whole is miraculous, and the incredible finale is the biggest, best surprise of all.

No, I ain't tellin'! But if you go, you won't be able to stop talking about it. It's about Showing, not Telling --- that's all I'm going to say.

"The Maids" (27 February - 8 March)
@ The Pell Chaffee Performance Center's Citizens Bank Theatre , PROVIDENCE RI
1 (401)351-4242

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide