Miss Julie

Tue 22nd – Sat 26th November 2011

reviews

Lucie Elven

at 11:14 on 23rd Nov 2011

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I assume that outrage in 1888 would have been superior to the outrage we feign now ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1367663/We-open-families-IKEA-provokes-outrage-Italy-creating-advert-gay-couple-holding-hands.html ). Miss Julie was banned in much of Europe for decades, but I experienced troublingly little indignation tonight. I was comfortable enough to observe that such an intricate and homely set coupled with the actors not breaking the fourth wall meant that at its most exhausted moments, Miss Julie rolled over into period drama.

Before flat packs and gays, Sweden’s biggest export was August Strindberg, or – as he was known in his student days – The Seed (he looked like Mickey Rourke in 9 1/2 Weeks). The Seed had aims, one of which one was to give characterization more weight than plot.

Genevieve Gaunt’s Miss Julie vacillated ferally between the spoilt child and the hysterical fallen woman. Gaunt was masterful at shedding the considerable power with which she entered on stage with pathetic and repetitious facedrops and flyings off the handle.

However, while Johnston was an expert flirt, his characterization was put aside early on as he was called upon solo to make clear all of the play’s themes. Like a socially concerned one-man band, he straddled ‘morality vs emotion’, elbowed ‘the influence of heredity and environment on the individual’, and honked ‘class tensions’. It was Character and Themes that planned to run away together and start a hotel, but never quite did. I think that was a little lazy on the part of the director.

Apart from that, Megan Roberts does a lively turn as Christine, there’s evidence of why The Seed’s luck with the ladies dwindled (‘my womb desired your seed’ – Strindberg speaks in the voice of Woman). The production does a good job of exploring the grievances we use to make excuses for being bad. However, I'd have liked to be outraged.

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