on 10 December 2001
Genet's work is like a Pandora's Box; once you lift the lid there is almost no stopping what emerges. The Maids, in particular, is a fascinating and complex play that leaves the reader doubting their own personality: how far can a person be driven by the situation they find themselves in? The story of the two sister's plot to kill their mistress and their ceremonial role-playing of her is a dark and biting commentary on social roles. Anyone interested in the issues raised in Strindberg's Miss Julie will be equally interested in the ritualistic aspect of two servants who believe they should be higher in their society.
Deathwatch follows as an equally provoking read. The plot takes place in the claustrophobic atmosphere of the prison cell and the three inmates. Genet's exploration of homo-erotic relationships are evident in both of these plays masked by the examination of social roles. The inmates love and despise each other, and Genet explores the hierarchy of those confined to prison. To gain notoriety and respect of the other inmates it seems the ideal is to be the hardest and harshest criminal serving time.
Deathwatch is interesting to read in consideration of the playwright's biography; he spent much of his life in and out of prison for petty thefts and the play is truthful and interesting.
The plays offer remarkable possibilities for staging and are also very interesting for those who enjoy reading plays and theatre literature.