After Miss Julie

Tue 4th – Sat 8th November 2014

reviews

Megan Dunne

at 09:56 on 5th Nov 2014

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In a word, After Miss Julie is captivating. There is no doubt that the audience and I were spellbound by this performance. Jonah Hauer-King’s John is a mesmerising character who constantly switches from angel to devil in our eyes as the characters go through the motions of the play. Kate Reid is excellent as the bitter, weary Christine. One criticism: the play does start rather awkwardly, as Reid sighs and paces back and forth across the stage in a forced pantomime of waiting. Similarly, Rose Reade’s entry as Julie is slightly askew and forced, and the chemistry between the characters is not instantly recognisable. Nevertheless, the actors warm up to each other and by the end of the play you are transfixed by the tiniest glance cast between them. The audience watches, hooked, as the characters hunt each other around the large black table that acts as the centrepiece for the performance. The costumes were excellent and Julie’s hair style was noticeably apt, but one detail was amiss: as Christine heads to church, we register that she is not wearing any socks or stockings with her shoes, which seems rather inappropriate for her Sunday best. Obviously, this tiny detail is trivial, but is a detail nonetheless. The three actors do an excellent job of carrying the play, and tension is often drawn using the coming presence of another character, rather than their presence itself. The play moves swiftly from tension to tender love to violence and hatred, and we watch, spellbound. The introduction and quick degeneration of Miss Julie is excellently done; first she is full of bravado, flirtatious and bold, and then she is reduced to a deranged child, weeping and thrashing and desperately attempting to assert her authority. This authority is a core part of the play; it goes from the tenet that holds the characters together, to something non-existent at the end. The end of the play itself is shocking. The audience feels a chill at the last words of Hauer-King’s John, and as the stage darkens on his lone figure standing near the forefront of the stage, we are left feeling disoriented and appalled, and, indubitably, wonderstruck.

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