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The Maids + Q&A

A deadly game of ritual, role-play and rubber gloves.

Based on the true crime story of murderous duo The Papin sisters, this Autumn our headline production is a radical telling of Jean Genet’s infamous The Maids.

Two sisters, Clare and Solange, live and work as maids in a grand house in a French city. When the mistress is out, they play an obsessive game of role-play in which one of the sisters dresses up in the fine clothes belonging to the mistress.

Acting out the power structures which define their lives with great theatricality, the sisters expose a complex relationship of violence, submission, tenderness and erotic tension. As the line between make believe and reality becomes increasingly distorted, it becomes clear that the aim of the game is to murder their mistress.

Keeping with the theme of radical, for the first time in HOME history we’ve ripped out the seats in our Theatre 1 space and built a brand-new, in-the-round auditorium. You will be able to watch from both on and off the stage in a specially built seating area. All on stage seating is £10 (£5 concession) for all performances.

★★★★ “Jean Genet’s would-be murderers set pulses racing… Dazzling, dangerous and captivatingly queasy.” – The Guardian

“[Lily] Sykes’s direction also, at moments, breathtakingly achieves, with the actors, through the performances, the numinous poetry of Genet’s vision… Great performances win out.” – The Observer

★★★★ “An engaging production in which the spirit of Genet is very present in its queer splendour.” – Attitude

“An intriguing production, tense and engaging… [A] striking and stylish prison-set production of Jean Genet’s twisted political power-play” – The Stage

★★★★ “Terrific… the sexual tension is drawn so tight it could snap at any minute… [Lily] Sykes worked in Germany for 10 years after she graduated here, and has clearly learnt a thing or two. On the evidence of The Maids, can she come back again please?” – Northern Soul

“There is a great deal to savour in this black comedy… If you want to see something slightly subversive with a strong political streak running through the middle which challenges you and leaves you feeling perplexed, with more questions than answers, give it a go.” – I Love Manchester

★★★★ “A superb example of a dark and tense piece of theatre that genuinely scares by continually swapping the hero/villain status of each of the characters.” – The Greater Manchester Reviewer

★★★★★ “Violently deluded yet brilliantly captivating… Bold and unforgettable… The staging only enhances the performance. [The] addition of a round stage, almost colosseum-like, creates an immersive experience making you feel closer and more a part of the drama.” – Frankly My Dear

★★★★ “Startling… The piece is infused with uneasy tension, wild theatricality and a wicked sense of humour, and driven by three excellent performances from Jake Fairbrother, Luke Mullins, and Danny Lee Wynter. What’s more, it cleverly places Genet himself at the very core of the piece – a unique and inspired twist.” – The Arts Shelf

★★★★ “The performances across the board are brilliant… The Maids makes for a really interesting piece, it kept me intrigued throughout and the layers of story have had me thinking over it for the rest of the week.” LGBTQ Arts Review

“[The Maids] is a play that delights in bending dramatic convention and is given heightened theatricality here with use of video projection, and other alienation techniques.” – Manchester Theatre Awards

“Lily Sykes’ searing production turns [The Maids] into a vivid psychodrama which plays with ideas of power and dominance in very interesting ways… Well worth going to see.” – North West End

★★★★ “The performances are excellent with a blazing display from Jake Fairbrother, Luke Mullins and Danny Lee Wynter that takes in tenderness, timidity, waspishness, bitchiness and outright desperation… Imaginative and gripping.” – The Reviews Hub

“A superbly written and brilliantly directed dark piece of theatre that had me enthralled for the full 95 minutes… If you want powerful, thought-provoking complex drama then I would most definitely recommend a visit.” – Reviewer Number 9

The Maids perfectly captures a social and cultural desire to resist and revolt… It is a triumph of direction, design and performance, demanding that we question the world we live in.” – Mancunion

“Lily Sykes’ dark and compelling production creates a smouldering atmosphere of ambiguity and transgression.” – Circles & Stalls

★★★★ “Jean Genet’s classic story of a pair of murderous sisters [is] a truly mind bendingly macabre machination that is marvellously mind-blowing… The Maids is constantly messing with you and making you question what you are watching, what to believe and by the end just hoping it never ever ends.” – Caught in the Act

★★★★ “A dark, tense, unnerving thriller that keeps you on edge, guessing what will happen and who to side with… Constantly subverting expectations, it is confusingly thought provoking, yet utterly captivating.” – The Play’s The Thing

“People like patterns, structures and order to feel safe and make sense of the world. This play knowingly refuses to give us the sense of reassurance we crave.” – Reviewsmith

“Jean Genet experienced life as an outsider and his work relishes and glorifies the absurdity of life that makes one man an outcast and another revered, or one woman a maid while the other is the Mistress… This production of The Maids celebrates his sense of the absurd and pokes fun at our own ways of coping in an increasingly nightmarish world.” – Live Art Alive

“Everything about this play is immense from the weird and wonderful start to the heart-breaking and perfectly calculated ending. The brilliance of [Lily] Sykes comes together to produce the most spectacular piece of theatre I have ever seen… To put this simply: you need to see The Maids.” – A Younger Theatre

“The raw and intense performance between [Luke] Mullins and [Jake] Fairbrother that brings the audience to heel… Afterwards, we’re left unsure at where the make-believe ended and reality began.” – The Northern Quota

“Driven by Lily Sykes’ imaginative direction, this makes for a grotesquely fascinating evening that, at its end, will have you heading to the bar in silence as your brain computes what you have just seen, then debating for an hour as the questions cascade from your mind.” – Canal Street

“Bringing together two very different approaches to gendered performance, the stage comes to life most when the three characters interact… Touches of comedy creep in between the pervading sense of queasiness… Political comment takes a backseat to ‘art for art’s sake’ in this production, but it quietly resonates underneath the sinister soundtrack.” – Harpy

“Showcasing a translation by Martin Crimp, this version of Les Bonnes features some interesting and innovative production devices… Worth checking out.” – Words and Fixtures

“There’s something compelling about the production. It’s beautiful almost all of the time.” – Exeunt

“The whole cast is highly accomplished, however the stand out performance is Danny Lee Wynter as the mistress: you’re not watching a man playing a woman, you’re watching a woman.” – Entertainment Focus

“This production sees HOME transform its main house theatre into the round for the first time; it is to be hoped that this will not be a one-off when the play demands it – as it does in the case of The Maids.” – Weekend Notes

“A bold and exciting interpretation of Jean Genet’s classic, packing rather a lot into its 105-minute run-time.” – Vada

“Reconfigured in-the-round by designer Ruari Murchison, this performance is a brilliant fusion of traditional French absurdist postmodernism, and minimal, stripped-back contemporary theatre… A wonderful production of an underappreciated classic.” – Touchpaper

“This mesmerising version of the play, crisply translated by Martin Crimp, takes you right into the heart of Genet’s world.” – Jildy Sauce

“The whole performance feels almost dreamlike… Details like the live streaming camera, to brilliant set design, makes The Maids one of 2018’s most dazzling performances of the year.” – Girl on Film

Event details

This performance of The Maids will be followed by a post-show Q&A chaired by Dr Jason Hartford, Lecturer in French Studies at the University of Manchester.

Jason Hartford writes on modern fiction from France and Belgium, queer theory, and interpretations of religious figures, especially icons, in secular culture. His current research interests include psychoanalysis and cinema, fin-de-siècle science fiction, and the relation of modern French thought to other disciplines. He has also acted in Les Bonnes.

Q&A hosted in partnership with the Alliance Française.