The Maids

By Jean Genet, translated by Martin Crimp

The Story
Archipelago Productions presents the Tasmanian Premiere of Jean Genet’s The Maids translated by Martin Crimp. Jean Genet (1910-1986), French poet, novelist, playwright, and political essayist, was one of the most significant French writers of the twentieth century. Loosely inspired by the true crime story of murderous duo The Papin sisters is Jean Genet’s infamous play for three performers, The Maids. Two sisters, Claire and Solange, live and work as maids in a grand apartment in a big city. When the owners are out, the sisters enact an obsessive game of role-play in which they dress up in the exquisite clothes of their mistress. Acting out the power structures which define their lives with sarcastic ferocity, 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 is clear that the duo is planning the murder of their mistress.

This masterpiece of self-conscious theatrical construction is at once hilarious and disturbing, cruel, and empathetic. Genet’s powerful work takes on a journey through the power structures that define our lives, from top to bottom. The master slave relationship, at the heart of so many of our interactions, is torn ruthlessly apart. In the light of our contemporary re-examination of power and institutions rocking the church, parliament, the police, and the patriarchy, this work stands out as a continual beacon, an inspiration and an age-old condemnation. The three women at the centre of this story are all struggling for an escape from the definitions of their lives, but so insidious are the rules that govern their existence, fantasy, delusion, and masks become their only means of coping with their intractable situation. Archipelago Productions has assembled a rich and diverse array of Tasmanian artists to collaborate on this large scale, enduring classic.


Jean Genet – Writer

Martin Crimp – Translation

Ben Winspear – Director

Takani ClarkAssistant Director 

Justin Kurzel – Set/Costume Designer

Glenn Richards – Sound Composer

Jason James – Lighting Designer

Jen Cramer – Stage Manager

Jacqueline Collyer – Sound Assistant/Attachment


Essie Davis – Claire

Marta Dusseldorp – Solange

Stephanie Jack – The Mistress

Production Stills

Photography Alastair Bett

Just wanted to say exquisite. An amazing experience. You consumed the space.


We enjoyed The Maids and what a treat to have such excellent acting here in Hobart.


Engrossingly good!


So amazing. I’m shook.


Loved it. I was suitably disturbed.


Beautifully crafted and executed with charisma and rigour. Congratulations to all, fabulous theatre.


An amazing blend of humour and murderous twist!


What a play! Loved so much about it. Not least of all the performances. What language and imagination.