The Maid, Rich Mix
The oldest profession in the world is said to be prostitution. Woman are being sold and traded around the world as sex slaves. Wives and mothers are selling themselves whilst their husbands are at work, at least according to Sheila White. White’s latest play The Maid is about a woman named Sue who has been forced to work as a maid in a sex flat due to her husband’s debt. What is a sex flat you ask? White reckons that all over the UK, right next door to you or me, women have set up sex flats. Different from brothels as there is only one girl working there at a time, but the service remains the same.
The script has won awards including the Alfred Fagon Award in 1999, and it is easy to see why. The script is witty and funny but I felt lacked the depth and complexities needed to really capture or explore the controversial topic. Ultimately the script deals with many clichés and stereotypes’ surrounding prostitutes and prostitution, but the pace was a little slow so it dragged at places.
Carol Moses stars in the one woman play and delivers moving monologues and heated one sided discussions whilst moving about the set of the flat. Moses is very good as Sue, and helps to highlight the themes of female hierarchy and self hate, by constantly comparing herself to Angel (the working girl) and Tilly (the boss). However I couldn’t help but wish the play wasn’t a one-woman act as I wanted to meet and hear from Angel and Tilly. Especially once Sue revealed that Angel wasn’t the 19-year-old Blonde haired, blue eyed bombshell she is advertised as and instead is a 40-year-old, tired woman who really is looking for love and a family.
The director Vernon Douglas creates an excellent sense of atmosphere and suspense through the use of multi-media. Nevertheless the good use of lighting and sound effects couldn’t stop the play feeling under developed, I left feeling unsatisfied with the story as I wanted more. The themes explored are thought-provoking and disturbing, I left wondering how much I really know my neighbours and if the age-old profession of prostitution will ever die out.
The Maid was at Rich Mix from 25 to 26 June, 2009
Paula B Stanic, 2008 Alfred Fagon Award winner