Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Monday, 20 February 2012 22:57

Or not to be

Written by Bob Wilcox
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The Details

  • Director: Wieslaw Gorski
  • Dates: February 17-March 4, 2012

Though often included in the Theatre of the Absurd, Jean Genet has long struck me as one of the first post-modern playwrights. In several of his plays, he uses theatre itself – the playing of a role – as a metaphor for the human condition: metatheatre, if you will.

Granted, he's not the first to suggest this. Even Shakespeare had characters who saw all the world as a stage and an insubstantial pageant.

But Genet pushes the idea farther than most. In The Blacks, Africans perform a ritual of the rape and murder of a European – who is a black in whiteface. The Maids, currently being produced by Upstream Theater in the Kranzberg Arts Center, opens with a wealthy woman upbraiding her submissive maid. Then an alarm rings and those two individuals, in Prospero's words, "are melted into air, into thin air," revealing each of them to be someone other than they seemed.

But the performance provides the maids with an outlet for venting their disgust with themselves and their position in society and their urge to revenge themselves on their superiors. Genet creates for them a poetry of revulsion and hate, full of images of spit and dirt.

In the Upstream production, the fantasy begins with the absolutely fabulous – those are the words for it – absolutely fabulous set by Jason Coale, with help from props designer Robert van Dillen. It's a flower-stuffed, over-decorated romantic dream of a bedroom. The indulgence continues with Michele Siler's costumes – not the maids' black uniforms but the mistress's cascading furs, and with Chris Limber's sound design and Glenn Dunn's lights.

Wieslaw Gorski directs with care for the balance between the real and the pretend. If I might at times have liked a little more one way or the other, Emily Baker and Brooke Edwards thoroughly inhabit the two maids. Baker has a magnificent tirade of romantic rebellion and sacrifice, and Edwards is chilling in the play's final moments. Both sometimes need to remember that even in the close confines of the intimate Kranzberg theatre, we do need to hear them. Elizabeth Ann Townsend revels in the mistress's own melodramatic fantasy of self-sacrifice, almost starting to pack to accompany her falsely accused lover to exile on Devil's Island.

In The Maids, Genet finds a highly theatrical way to raise philosophical questions about the nature of reality and our perception of it. I'm grateful to Upstream Theater for giving us this opportunity to see it again done so well.

Additional Info

  • Director: Wieslaw Gorski
  • Dates: February 17-March 4, 2012

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


Search Parties

Tue September 9

KDHX Recommends

September
Saturday
20

The Thin Dimes at Harvest Sessions 2014

The Thin Dimes at Harvest Sessions 2014 Harvest Sessions welcomes the old-time country blues of the Thin Dimes for this weekend's concert in the park. This free Saturday morning concert series takes place at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market, and runs May through...


September
Saturday
20

Tower of Song: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and 80th Birthday Party

Tower of Song: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and 80th Birthday Party Leonard Cohen started out as a poet, and poetry -- ecstatic, spiritual, erotic and political -- suffuses all of his work. When he launched a career as a songwriter and singer in the '60s, only Bob Dylan could match his visionary...


September
Saturday
20

Lee Fields and The Expressions

KDHX welcomes Lee Fields and The Expressions to 2720 Cherokee on Saturday, September 20 at 8pm.   Tickets on sale now at www.ticketweb.com.


Get Answers!

If you have questions or need to contact KDHX, visit our answers portal at answers.kdhx.org.

Upcoming Events HAPPENING

Online Users

4 users and 11925 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook