Cate’s latest play “The Maids” has just opened and it’s getting great reviews:
TO bring together two actors of such greatness is wonderful but to bring them together in such a play as this is brilliant. Genet’s unsettling 1947 existentialist drama about two maids, Claire (Cate Blanchett) and Solange (Isabelle Huppert), who play out their fantasies of abjection and domination, is full of layers.
In their little acted-out “ceremony”, Claire plays Madame and Solange plays Claire (at least this time) but the theatrical levels are always shifting, flickering back and forth between different realities that are, in the end, all performances, like the theatre and like our lives.
And there is the fact that we are watching Blanchett and Huppert in magnificent, tour-de-force performances. They are celebrities as well as great actors and this layer – just watching them strut their stuff – becomes part of the fabric of the production. Add Elizabeth Debicki (who played Jordan Baker in the recent film The Great Gatsby) as an almost offensively young, beautiful, stupid and cruel Madame and we see Genet’s squalid drama of dreams and play-acting lifted into a different realm.
Andrews’ longtime collaborator Cate Blanchett is in stunning form as Claire, picking up every nuance and flying through her character’s more difficult turns with skill and grace. Isabelle Huppert delivers a strong, textured and playful performance, but doesn’t bring the same kind of refinement and depth as Blanchett. Her diction is mostly clear, but as the play is so language-based, she struggles to keep up with Blanchett who conveys the intention and subtext of every single word in the script.