Friday, 14 December 2012

The Maids at Glasgay: originally published by Across the Arts

With The Citz doing The Maids in the New Year, I'll be banging on about Genet for a while yet... I thought it would be nice to revisit this article I wrote when it was staged as part of Glasgay! It was originally published on Across The Arts.

Forced back to life by copious cups of coffee and too much tablet, I blunder into The Maids. Jean Genet forced his way free from prostitution, poverty and prison by the power of prose poetry, only to plunge back into the horror and bondage and torment and debt and death through his plays and novels, like Saint Sarah Kane before her time. Brutal enough even for YouPorn jaded tastes, Genet’s scripts know well that the melancholic masochism of the mind is purer than physical pain and punishment: the lash his lovers longer to linger beneath is neither literal nor leather.
Put simply, The Maids reveals the power games and sexual lusts beneath murderous impulses: while their mistress is away, they rummage her cupboards and play out fantasies of dominance and submission, plotting her assassination. One maid wears a translucent gown that reminds me of my beloved who now disdains me: the other moans and stretches in thrall to the delicious eroticism of subversion and violence. They switch roles, they nag and fight, scatter the extravagant fabrics of their mistress’ wardrobe across the bed. Translated from French to colloquial Scots, their language is infected by the grandeur of their ambitions and leavened by the dialect of the streets: they hardly pause to breathe, only to strike at one another or tremble at the mistress’ arrival.
It strains and aches upon the ears, this men dressed and rouged in female form, the speed and fire, a single note and mood: angst and hurt and deceit and memories triggered from the swish of fabric across naked flesh. The maid veils her head in embroidered elegance, the cataclysmic collapses of the human heart, the need for love thwarted and twisted into anger. Is this a vision of women bound, femininity reduced to shriek and bellow? Played by men, does this expose Genet’s own understanding of the female psyche? Ripping each other to ribbons of fear and doubt, the fast turn-about of assertion and defeat. They scream and preen. I scream and preen again.

No comments :

Post a Comment