Me: (Raises hand.)
Such was the conversation after opening night of Dark and Stormy's The Maids, when I said, "I have no idea what just happened." Friends, I'm not a theater person (Maureen). I've never studied or created theater, I come at this theater blogging thing strictly from the audience perspective. Hence the playwright and this play were unfamiliar to me before last night. All I knew is that it was about two maids who planned to kill their employer. Whether or not they succeeded in that I really can't tell you, but I don't think that's the point. I'm actually not sure what the point is, but this play is fascinating, if perplexing, and worth seeing for the performances of this three-person female cast alone.
When the cat's away, the mice will play. In this case the cat is a wealthy woman in Paris known only as "Madame," and the mice are her two maids, sisters (I think?) Claire and Solange. And the game they play at is one of them killing the Madame, played by the other one. The play begins and ends with this playacting scene, as Solange and Claire play maid and Madame in an exaggerated way, sometimes stepping out of character to correct the other. But perhaps the sisters should have agreed upon a safe word, because the playacting sometimes goes a little too far. They're interrupted by the return of Madame, when they have a chance to put their money where their mouth is. Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but let's just say things don't go as smoothly as planned (do they ever?).
|Jane Froiland as Claire as Madame, Sara Marsh as Solange as Claire|
(photo by Rich Ryan)
The intimate space at Dark and Stormy's studio in the Grain Belt Warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis works well for this story, putting us almost in the middle of the action. The maids vacuum under our feet, and a violent fight scene (choreographed by Annie Enneking, natch) feels almost too real. The simple set is similar to their last show, Fool for Love (only less shabby), and serves the story well, with just a bed, vanity table, and tons of flowers.
The play is darkly funny, with lots of symbolic language and diversions into tangents. It borders on campy, except for the dark subject matter. Lighting and sound cues help to orient us to where we are, except when they confuse us (well, me). I wish I could read a Vulture recap of this play, like I do when I watch a particularly complex episode episode of TV.
|the real Madame (Emily Bridges) with Solange (Sara Marsh)|
(photo by Rick Ryan)
The Maids continue their Dark and Stormy games through February 17.