NOW, I’m not averse to any art form pushing the boundaries and while there are some worthwhile themes that still deserve an outing on any stage, their impact is horribly lost in this painfully pretentious piece of theatre.
Loosely inspired by the murder by two French housemaids of their employer and her daughter, Genet’s play, written in the late 1940’s, explores themes like the thin line between love and hate and the social antagonism that still exists between the classes today, even though the class divisions that existed are by no means pronounced as they are today.
Far more captivating would have been a play about the murderous Papin sisters and a crime that shocked the French nation back in 1933. For me, Lily Sykes’ production, while being ingeniously staged, sets out to shock, and is, for me, classic case of style trumping substance.
Maids Solange and Claire, seduced by their employer’s lavish and for them unattainable lifestyle, indulge in sadomasochistic rituals in which they dress in her finery and act out fantasies about murdering her. A truly demanding piece of physical theatre for Luke Mullins and Jake Fairbrother who admirably rise to the challenge.
They also make for convincing women, enjoying some pre-performance fun with the audience, dressed in prison jumpsuits. They, along with Danny Lee Wynter who plays the crackpot duo’s employer known only as Mistress, have the mannerism spot on when it comes to convincing us they are real women.
Designer Ruari Murchison’s decision to have the action projected on to video screens facing the audience seated in-the=round initially struck me as a gimmick but it turned out to be a highly effective dramatic tool.
Not for me, I’m afraid. So sad, just as I was starting to feel right at HOME. But all relationships have their ups and downs don’t they?
Until December 1. The box office is on 0161 200 1500. Star rating - ** Photo by Jonathan Keenan.