Class conflict, sexual identity and political outcasts collide in Jean Genet’s explosive play, The Maids on stage at Home in November. Quays Life caught-up with lead actor, Jake Fairbrother to find out what audiences can expect from this radical French tale.
Can you tell us a bit about the play?
This great play by Genet is totally fascinating and so multi-layered. But what to say without giving too much away… Our story is about fantasy, about role playing, playing with one’s identity to escape reality and one’s life circumstances. This production particularly focuses on challenging the binaries of ‘modern life’ which was very much of Genet’s work.
Hopefully the production will be exciting, innovative, and sexy, challenging our perceptions through provocation. A top night out!
The playwright, Jean Genet wrote The Maids in 1947 whilst serving a prison sentence. Is there any sense of that in the play?
Imprisonment is very much part of this production, yes. Any more information would be a spoiler!
This production uses Martin Crimp’s translation, first staged at the Young Vic in 1999. How does his translation compare to the original play?
This is a fantastic Martin Crimp translation. Obviously he’s a great writer but compared to the original sadly I wouldn’t know. My GCSE French was never that good….I’ve dipped into other translations, but this definitely feels fresh and original.
Is the production a period piece and does it have relevance today?
Our production is multi-layered and spans different times periods through the power of fantasy.
The play is said to be based on the true story of murderous duo, The Papin sisters. Is your character, Claire based on a real person?
Although there are parallels to the Papin case, Genet denied that it was based on that story. However, it has been one of many useful reference points for creating the character of Claire.
The main theatre at Home is being transformed for the first time to an in-the-round space for this performance. (For this production the theatre is building over the stalls seating area, the stage will be raised up to the height of the circle – and audiences will be able to watch from both on and off the stage in a specially built seating area.) What is it like for you, as a performer, to play in-the-round?
I am thrilled about this being configured in the round. I always find that configuration more inclusive and therefore more exciting as both an actor and audience member.
Your dad, Don Warrington is starring in Death of a Salesman at the Royal Exchange at the same time. Is that just a co-incidence? Will you get a chance to see each other’s work during the run?
Yes, it’s absolutely a coincidence that my dad and I are working in Manchester at the same time. But a lovely one. He’s just down the road at the Royal Exchange in Death of a Salesman which I saw last night! His performance is incredible, everyone should try and see it. Yep, we’ll hopefully be able to grab pre-show dinners together once The Maids is up and running too.
You’ve played the Royal Exchange before too. Do you have fond memories of that time?
Being back in Manchester is great. I worked at the Exchange a few years ago and always love an excuse to come back. A smaller friendlier London. What’s not to love?
Read our review of Death of a Salesman at The Royal Exchange.