Jay Scheib in the New Yorker

“The Maids” Is a Pile of Fake Flowers


“It’s a measure of Cate Blanchett and Isabelle Huppert’s willingness to stay open and grow as stage performers that they even agreed to appear in the director Benedict Andrews’s version of Jean Genet’s “The Maids.” Andrews, who worked on a new translation of the 1947 play with the writer Andrew Upton, is the kind of director actors are often drawn to—flashy “bad boy” handlers on the prowl for cultural relevance. (Andrews is the director behind the current London revival of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” starring the underrated, fascinating Gillian Armstrong.) But Andrews’s edge is borrowed; we’ve already seen his use of video cameras, stylized choreography, soundtracks featuring popular “underground” music, clear glass walls, overstuffed sets, and so on, first in the work of the avant-garde Flemish director Ivo van Hove and then in shows staged by the American director Jay Scheib. These are theatre artists of note, with an interest in how classic material does and does not play in the contemporary world. Unlike van Hove and Scheib, though, Andrews is in thrall to the machinery of culture—stars and sets and the like—and his enthusiasm stops short of where it should really count: the script itself.”



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