Hila a play by Marie Ndiaye
Translated by Susie Lindeman
Directed by Beata Pilch
Played by Nicole Wiesner, Antonio Brunetti,Geraldine Dulex and Holly Thomas
Last year I attended a reading of Hilda, a powerful play by Marie Nduaye the French playwright. In this complex play which manifests human cruelty, exploitation, domination and class control, the rich, dominant, yet lonely Madame Lemarchand finds a maid named Hilda whom she expects would satisfy her complicated need for an infinite power. She not only alienates Hilda from her own identity, but gradually estranges her from her husband Frank—also a worker—and two children.
Madame Lemarchand creepily acts like a corporate boss, transforms Hilda as her possession and tortuously imposes her husband to pay her when Hilda visits her family. Although Hilda is absent on the stage during the entire play, the audience would see the consequence of this gradual process in Hilda’s and her family’s brutal destruction.
Marie Nduaye skillfully takes us to a familiar world to scrutinize the menacing process of domestic imperialism. Hilda is indeed a modern adaptation of The Maids by Jean Genet. Basically a different take on the real incident happened in France in 1933 as the result of the exploitation of the workers. In this version, if we see it from a larger spectrum, although the maid is absent, she is symbolically present. It’s the intelligent audience who would see Hilda as a silent nation, yet pregnant with rage.
Watching the play at Alliance Francaise de Chicago, as the second reading of The International Voices Project was an extraordinary experience.
The actors from the Trap Door Theatre Company did a fantastic performance. Both Antonio Brunetti (as Frank) and Nicole Wiesner (as Madame Lemarchard ) were brilliant and highly sophisticated.My review in Amazon.com