Jennifer Decker, artistic director and co-founder of Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company, has long championed challenging plays with strong female characters, making The Maids a dream to produce. Based on Jean Genet’s 1947 play, the performance follows two sisters working as maids, played by Courtney Lomelo and Patricia Duran, who fantasize about killing their employer, played by Lindsay Ehrhardt.
“This play has three juicy roles for women in the all-female cast,” Decker says. “Its also been under-produced here in Houston. It's dark and edgy, which has generally been our aesthetic over the years.”
Decker says the play has been on her radar, but the timing was right this summer. Director Jon Harvey, who has been wanting to direct it as much as Decker wanted to produce it, also suggested it as an option.
“We have exactly the right actors available in the summer slot,” Decker says. “I knew we would produce it eventually, but now seemed like the perfect time.”
The Maids reunited Harvey and the production team with lead servant actresses Lomelo and Duran, all of whom worked together on last season’s The Downing Girls, with Ehrhardt joining the cast as Madame.
“They are all top notch, so even though the play is very different from The Downing Girls, I know the quality will be very high,” Decker says.
She says that while the subject matter might seem grim, The Maids is certainly accessible.
“There is always a fascination with women who are violent because it is very unwomanly behavior," she says. "It also illustrates the oppression of the working class, divide between the rich and poor and how those hardships affect people's self-worth.”
July 28–Aug 13. $15-25. Mildred’s Umbrella, 1824 Spring St. 832-463-0409. mildredsumbrella.com