Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
THE class war isn't over yet. Just ask the House of Commons catering staff whom MP Christopher Chope referred to as "servants" last week. Let's hope they don't react like the sisters in Jean Genet's The Maids, so damaged by the social pecking order that they spend half their time plotting to murder their mistress, and the other half indulging in cruel master-servant role‑playing fantasies.
What's disappointing is the lack of rock'n'roll dynamics in the performances themselves. Laing reminds us that Genet paved the way for the danger of the Velvet Underground, the shape-shifting charisma of David Bowie and the histrionics of Metallica, yet his actors show none of those qualities. Worse, they make a simple story hard to follow, owing to their monotone delivery.
This is a shame because there's lots to love about Laing's production. His decision to avoid camp should, in theory, have given the play a pansexual ambiguity. This is the theatre where the flamboyant Lindsay Kemp, mentor to Bowie, staged the play in 1971, but Laing's version is free of drag-queen flouncing. Though it's not clear what has replaced it, the show offers many entertaining surprises such as the clip of a Genet interview and, midway through, a question-and-answer session with the director. If only the bold production ideas were equalled by the performances.
© Mark Fisher, 2013 (Pic: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan)
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