The Maids at Trafalgar StudiosCultureTheatre
What does it do to a person when their entire life is based around servitude? The Maids suggests that the result is not good: the chaos that is on show when two maids try to realise their fantasies of killing their mistress is something different from the traditional theatre that London has to offer, but this is by no means a bad thing.
It is clear from the very beginning that “the untraditional” is what drives this play. As the audience enter they are confronted by two banks of seating, each facing the other, and in-between is something that resembles a box-shaped crypt. As the lights dim, the box is flown out but the actors continue as if it were still there, with none of the action taking place outside of these previously solid walls. It allows the audience to get a thorough sense of what life must be like for a human who can rarely leave such an enclosed area.
As is the fashion with many London theatres, there is one “big name” in the production that one cannot fail to recognise, however, the casting of Uzo Abuda as Solange is completely justified. The actress is famous for her role as Crazy Eyes in Orange Is the New Black. Here, her portrayal of an unhinged serving girl is incredible, and at times verges on perfection. Rather strangely, one could complain that she does it too well, and as a consequence the performance of Zawe Ashton, who plays her younger sister, falls short in comparison. In the moments following Abuda’s most powerful monologue, in which she lambasts her sister for not being strong enough, the stage is set for a repost of utter rawness from Ashton and yet it never comes.
Such a remark is arguably hyper-critical, and yet it is fair as it measures the play against the incredibly high standards that it sets itself.
The Maids is on at Trafalgar Studios from 1st March until 21st May 2016. Book your tickets here.
Watch a teaser trailer for the show here: