(Mark Cook’s and Lyn Gardner’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/19.)
The Maids, London
Three women who have made a big impact on TV line up for the latest of Jamie Lloyd’s productions at the Trafalgar Studios. The Maids is a psychodrama by Jean Genet with themes of class, gender and sexuality, as two maids plot the murder of their mistress in a luxurious bedroom, playing out violent scenarios as they do so. In this modern, US-set version, the two servants are played by Uzo Aduba, a double Emmy-winner for her performance as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Orange Is The New Black, and Zawe Ashton of Fresh Meat fame, seen in Splendour at the Donmar Warehouse last year. Madam is played by someone familiar with upstairs-dwelling characters: Laura Carmichael, best known as Downton Abbey’s Lady Edith.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play For The Nation, Stratford-upon-Avon
This collaborative Royal Shakespeare Company production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream sees actors from various amateur theatre companies join the professional cast to play Bottom and his friends. Alongside Ayesha Dharker as Titania and Lucy Ellinson as Puck, local am-dram groups play the Mechanicals, themselves part-time actors who perform a play within the play. It’s good to see the contribution amateur companies make to cultural life recognised, and, of course, it means the production will be different every place it’s performed, as it travels to 11 theatres across the country next month.