miss julie by august strindberg

16 Nov

Miss Julie
By August Strindberg
Newly adapted by Howard Brenton
At Jermyn Street
Miss Julie was first presented in 1983 in Paris. It was of course considered shocking as it offended  too many prejudices, the characters behaved in a naturalistic manner, it criticised the great divide in the class system, and there was near nudity on stage. It was just too Real. It is a story full of real passion and much sex. The actual act is performed off stage although the lead up to it is graphically performed in front of us.
The action takes place in the kitchen of an aristocrat’s mansion. Kristin the cook  enters the excellently appointed kitchen without preamble as if she was at home and begins to prepare food. We are convinced that this is a naturalist play when the smell of kidneys cooking wafts over the audience and we wait patiently for her to finish the washing up in real time.
Kristin is somewhat loosely engaged to Jean the Count’s valet. Jean is a young man of ambition, determined to better himself in any way he can. He has travelled and discovered there other things in life than polishing boots and answering his master’s bell. We do not know why he came back. He says he is in love with Julie, the Count’s daughter but maybe he just thinks she might provide the way out of his present situation. Julie’s motives are just as inconsistent as his. She treats him with contempt and then seduces him reversing their relationship and beginning a kind of war in the survival of the fittest..
This is a new edition of the play by Howard Brenton which he wrote from a literal translation of the work. It seems very authentic, looking at a group of people as they really are, changing their minds, their attitudes, their relationships to each other.
Louie Whitemore’s set is stunning – the most perfect, practical kitchen, sparkling and clean with copper saucepans and the costumes are attractive and appropriate for the time and place.
The play is well directed by Tom Littler, Jermyn Street’s new artistic director and the piece is exceptionally acted by Charlotte Hamblin as Julie, James Sheldon as Jean and Isabella Urbanowicz as Kristin.
A highly successful interpretation of this famous play.

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