Yesterday I went to the theatre (Piccolo Teatro Grassi – Milan) to watch “ Le serve” (“The Maids”) a play by Jean Genet, the renowned French dramatist.
The maids are two sisters, Claire and Solange, who live an obsessive relationship of love and hatred with their beautiful mistress (Madame).
Every night, when the lady is out, they take turns playing the roles of servant and employer, wearing Madame’s luxurious dresses. The final aim of this ceremony is the ritual re-enactment of Madame’s murder, until fiction and reality start to become dangerously confused.
The play is set in a richly furnished bedroom, in which the prevailing colour is dark green, with the walls full of mirrors and giant images of Madame in sensual postures. The overall effect is gloomy and overwhelming and the tension is emphasized by the change of the lights and of the scene itself, where, towards the end, the huge posters turn into a dark forest. The place now has become less and less physical, since the boundaries between fiction and reality have developed extremely vague
The text of this play of dreams and mirrors, symbols and rituals, was inspired by a terrible event that took place on a cold February evening in 1933 in the French town of Le Mans: two sisters, Christine and Léa Papin, serving a wealthy middle-class family, brutally murdered their mistress and her daughter, before being found in bed together, with a bloody hammer by their side.