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I first saw 'The Maids' on PBS in the early 1980s, and loved it. The American Film Series was briefly available in Betamax format, but has long been unavailable. Now the series has been released on VHS and DVD, and I am delighted.
At the time I was unfamiliar with the play; this film served as an introduction to Genet's work, and further to the so-called 'Theatre of the Absurd.' Glenda Jackson and Susannah York give absolutely incredible performances as Solange and Claire, the title characters, who take turns dressing as their mistress (played by Vivien Merchant), and abusing each other in a parody of the master/slave relationship. It is difficult to recapitulate the plot in the space provided. Being faithful to the source text, the film is very wordy, and with a lesser cast and director would probably be unwatchable, but if you like full-throttle acting by three of the twentieth century's best actresses, and don't need an edit every four seconds, this is worth your time.
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