#58. I quit my first career job after 6 years. My boss was the most shrewd businessman I had ever met. At first, I was mesmerized by his charisma. I adored him. Later, he used his business tactics to put me in my place. I abhorred him. So, on the eve of my big going away party, my friends and I cleaned out my office. Then, we went into his office and took pictures of me at his desk drinking from his favorite coffee cup. I was officially done! I skipped the party.
Oracle Theatre presents THE MAIDS. Claire and Solange are sisters. They are also maids. They work for a self-absorbed, rich woman. Madame is demeaning, demoralizing and diabolical. She regularly taunts them with her gowns, furs and men. The sisters are stuck working for the bitch. So to cope, when she is not around, they pretend to be her. Claire puts on Madame’s clothes and orders Solange around. Solange reacts with varying degrees of repressed aggression. She plots to kill Madame during role playing. Claire jumps on the idea for reals. What happens when fantasy turns reality? And reality becomes fantasy? THE MAIDS are mad about their employer.
Phantasmagorical is a hallmark of Oracle Theatre! Bringing madness to life on stage is their signature move. It’s like the Oracle creative team hangs out on the #36 Broadway bus and interviews *colorful* passengers for ideas. It pays off because THE MAIDS is a gripping, psycho thriller. Under the direction of Ben Fuchsen, the trio swing to emotional extremes. It’s a roller coaster ride of manic ups and despondent downs. As the target of the angst, Sasha Grishkov (Madame) reigns supreme in smugness and helplessness. Grishkov throws her maids a bone and then fractures it. The maids are played by two men in drag. It adds an additional layer of differential between the boss and the help. Grishkov is all glam and frivolity. The guys are unattractive ‘women’ aspiring for more and living with less.
Fuchsen keeps the tension high and the esteem low. John Arthur Lewis (Claire) dons an evening gown and the oppressor role. Lewis is haunting in controlling his sister. His big Bette Davis‘ eyes are disturbing. They are perfectly glassed over with hatred. At one point, Lewis becomes the victim and his vulnerability is heart-wrenching. The show focuses on the twisted sisters. The chemistry between Lewis and Rich Logan (Solange) is a tight Bette Davis and Joan Crawford bond. There is both high levels of competition and instability. The hanger-waving Logan doesn’t just have a *melt down,* he completely vaporizes on stage. Logan transforms from helpful to hellfull! Logan delivers a body-shaking, lunatic rant that is outstanding. His performance is strait-jacket worthy!
THE MAIDS is a tightly-packed journey into insanity. It’s well worth the road trip to Oracle Theatre. And through their new public access format, it’s free!
Running Time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
At Oracle Theatre, 3809 N. Broadway
Written by Jean Genet
Translated by Bernard Frechtman
Directed by Ben Fuchsen
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 8pm
Thru April 21st
Reserve Tickets at www.oracletheatre.org