Theaterhaus Stuttgart, The Maids

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

Genet's metaphorical evocation of imprisonment is taken quite literally in the prison setting of this production, with Koffi Koko and Ismael Azazi as two inmates who plot to kill their sexually frustrated gaoler – Ziya Azazi. The two 'maids’ enact rituals of confinement, evoking a claustrophobic world where a cigarette shared through a hole in the wall carries the ache of longing – whether for a lover or the world outside.

Although fragments of Genet's text are recited from time to time, they sit uncomfortably in a piece which is more dance than dance-theatre. It conveys the visceral underbelly of Genet's original play more powerfully in the fusion of dance and physical theatre than in the spoken dimension. One senses director Yoshi Oida's debt to Peter Brook in the use of cloth and metal: reams of red cloth unwind from the gaoler in a breathtakingly dervish-like centre-piece when the gaoler-mistress returns; deep-toned metal bowls supply an eerily disturbing accompaniment to the dance-action. And the precision and grace of every tiny movement is bewitching.

As an example of multi-ethnic collaboration, this was one of the treats of the Barbican's BITE season, combining choreographic talent from Africa, Brazil and Turkey, with Japanese direction and German music. Genet would perhaps have applauded.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 26