The Maids – Perv It Up Cold
A REVIEW BY THE BAD ORACLE
Oh, I’m sorry this review came so fucking late and wasn’t mentioned in our August sneak peek! My bad for blanking. But, you never know, there may be a revival in the future (director Ric Royer mentioned a possibility of a “trunk show”). I’d never been to The Psychic Readings Company before and I was pissed that I missed their last show, because everyone who went said it was amazing. So I was pumped to catch this version of Jean Genet’s endlessly reinterpreted The Maids for the last performance of the run. And, considering all that hype, did it disappoint? No, it did not. I eat this vibe up with a spoon. Psychic is doing a great horror show, bottom shelf porn, high/low/gross/sexy thing. It makes me feel nostalgic, actually, the ball out weirdness, the glitter shoe thrill. And it’s more than that, too. It’s spectacle in the living room with a spooky basement underneath. It’s waiting for your eyes to adjust as someone opens a dark door at the back of a small, dirty bookshop. Take Nicolette Le Faye and Carly J. Bales as the titular maids, forever manic, forever cosplaying the death of their employer, Madame (Kyra Evelyn). Madame lives and dies over and over and over again, suffering every kind of indignity, a killing game infused with the headiness of a sadomasochistic jerk off. Royer makes them into more than pretty women playing at grotesquerie, though they are that, certainly. But it’s Le Faye breaking the fourth wall just as you’re really getting charged up, pouting that she really doesn’t like being spit on, and could they do it without the spit? It’s Bales forgetting her character’s name at one point, messily confusing reality with fantasy. It’s in the clearly improvised (so, creepier) way that Madame forcibly does her servant girl’s makeup with maximum sable brush poke. It’s in the fact that the space really is under construction and how you’re never sure if the lights are supposed to go off or not. The acting is tight all around. Bales, LeFaye and Evelyn perform with panting, acrobatic exactness that is never forced or prissy. The crazy, shifting power dynamics of a hellish, repeating stagescape that almost looks like fun are, for the most part, well defined. Bales is faultless, navigating the head-snap changeability in the script with frightening ease. This is the second show I’ve seen where she has relished perverting a thin misogynist trope – the last was Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman at Annex. From housewife to maid and are they really so different? I love the way she gets to a screaming, red-goo induced orgasm and then hops down with a curt: “I’m there. It’s my turn to play Madame.” Le Faye is an actor that always seems of another world. She’s most unnerving when she dials up the baby doll innocence, dead eyes in black lingerie, a girlchild who will eat you. And Evelyn, breezing in as the sunglassed Madame (but is she) has the exact right air for a member of the disaffected upper class (the French are always so sensitive about this kind of thing, non?).
BOTTOM LINE: I got off on this wild ride, so next time, don’t sleep (like I almost did) on peeping The Psychic Readings Company. The Maids was cheerfully twisted, elegantly deranged, with confidentially weirdo performances and truly strong vision. I’m first in line for whatever’s up after this one.
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