THE Fleeting Arms pop-up community art space may now have more than a fleeting relationship with its pub premises in Gillygate, amid rumours of a lengthened residency before its conversion into a hostel.

Productions such as this dark, airless new adaptation of Jean Genet's 1947 French drama The Maids by York company Hedgepig Theatre look very much at home in what has so quickly become a buzzing hub for York's self-made arts scene.

Thursday's show was sold out and the advice from Hedgepig director Andy Curry is to book in advance for tonight and tomorrow's performances, which are likely to follow suit. In essence, the space is a pop-up variation on pub theatre, the bar full of chat beforehand, but the backroom is pleasingly insulated from extraneous noise.

Instead, the doppelganger pair of Gemma Sharp and Anna Rose James can gradually immerse the gathering audience in the ritualistic world and destructive power play of compulsive-obsessive sisters Solange and Claire, petting one minute, scratching each other like capricious cats the next.

Then Genet's strange, strangulating play starts with a click of a light switch – the cast do all the light changes in Kelli Zezulka's lighting design – as they draw us into their paranoid, claustrophobic world of plots, fantasy games, role playing, wishing to kill their Madame (Victoria Delaney) yet torn between their love and loathing of each other too.

In a room of noir walls and white furniture wrapped as if in bandaging, it is a play of contrasts, the diminutive, trapped sisters in tight, corseted, repressive white and smudged eyeliner; Delaney's alluring, liberated Madame, all cleavage, dramatic black finery and fluttering eyelashes, blithely floating above the plotting that eventually consumes the sisters.

Anna Rose James's return to the York stage after a break from Six Lips Theatre has been one of the delights of the past year and again she is a magnetic performer in a damaged, distressing role, her brush strokes always capable of surprise. The interplay with Gemma Sharp's more openly demonstrative twisted sister is full of physicality as well as mind games, their performance benefiting from the movement direction of Sarah Cotterill that has them crawling on the floor, intertwining legs and rushing around, leaping in and out of a clothes rail.

Alexander King's soundscapes add to the creeping intensity of Curry's knot-taut production, while Julia Smith's costume designs perfectly match each character's status.

Genet's patented "dark humour" is absent, but Hedgepig reap the benefit of treating The Maids as no laughing matter. The weirder these sisters, the better.

The Maids, Hedgepig Theatre, The Fleeting Arms, Gillygate, York, tonight at 8pm; tomorrow at 2pm and 8pm. Box office: 01904 623568 or at