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T H E A T E R   R E V I E W  -  The Maids  -  Stage 52


Jean Genet’s revolutionary classic The Maids is given an intense and unique restaging at Stage 52.

LOS ANGELES, CA - Based on a true crime that shocked France in 1933, The Maids is about two mentally unbalanced incestuous sisters who savagely murdered their employer and her daughter. Their brutal act became a symbol of the rising up of the oppressed against the tyranny of class structure. The sisters were immediately catapulted to heroic status in the struggle against the bourgeoisie, and their story inspired numerous interpretations by artists the world over.

Jean Genet, born in Paris in 1910, wrote his first novel while serving one of numerous prison sentences. In 1948, he was condemned to life imprisonment but was pardoned by the President of the Republic at the behest of France’s most eminent writers. He’s been labeled an orphan, a thief, a homosexual, and an outcast amongst other names. 

This production should be commended for choosing such a controversial and demanding script, and they are taking a chance by having an all-black cast. The audience member unfamiliar with Genet’s work is asked to believe their accents and will wonder what country this interpretation is taking place. 

However, The Maids has strong performances not to be missed. Sofie Calderon excels in the role of Claire, with her confused demented fight for sanity. Switching personalities on stage at the drop of a hat, Ms Calderon managed keep the audience on their toes while drawing sympathy. Dawn Greenidge had the hard task of portraying Claire’s older sister Solange. There were many uncomfortable moments her character performed but Ms Greenidge found the motivation behind her character, making jaws drop in the process.
Inger Tudor played Madame and in this performance was the weakest of the three. It was hard to decide whether to be sympathetic for her character or if she deserved the murderous plot upon her. Ms. Greenidge and Ms Tudor will alternate roles throughout the run, so it should be interesting to see these two talented women portraying the opposite parts.

A special nod should be noted to the set. Designed by Dan Mailley, it is a sight to see and beautifully decorated with colorful flowers. The performance this reviewer attended found other audience members fighting themselves from jumping on the set for a souvenir. Amusing as the incident was, that little tidbit had to be included.

Go see The Maids. It’s not a happy play but the story is compelling. Unless you have maids of your very own, in which case, just keep telling yourself, “It’s only a play. It’s only a play”.

Presented by Lisa Kenner with CGT Productions, and directed by Stuart K. Robinson, The Maids performs at Stage 52, located at 5299 Washington Blvd in Los Angeles, California. Running through December 18, 2004, performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm. There will be no performances November 25 through November 27 due to Thanksgiving weekend. Tickets are $20 - General Amission, and $15 for Seniors and Students with ID.
Adrian Rennie

An “In Search of Genet” Q&A with expert panel will be held following the December 4th performance. 

For reservations and other info, please call 323-769-6243.

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