This is the best play I have seen this term: a staggeringly powerful script, delivered with restraint and depth by all the actors. The play opens with Christine (Kate Reid) listening to the announcement of the victory of the Labour Party on the radio, while the imperious Miss Julie (Rose Reade) parties outside with Christine’s fiancée. Right from the start the audience is made acutely aware of the overlaps and contradictions of power between the classes, sexes and genders. The brilliance of this performance by Reid is rooted more in moments of stillness and silence, than dialogue. Even asleep, her body is in the alert poise of the servant. This rigour only breaks in the last scene, though not for the better.
Reade's performance, on the other hand, builds throughout the play and climaxes in the final scene. While her initial enthusiasm as the tyrannical, confident Julie is a little histrionic, she is chillingly convincing as the play progresses. Not wanting to give too much away, let me just say that the final scene is an absolutely treat. The harsh light and absolute silence are particularly important to this scene and Holly Hampton has done a great job woth the design. My only issue with the lighting was the scene where Reid enters the bedroom to an electric, nightclub blue that is completely incongruous with the overall lighting and set design.
Jonah Hauer-King also delivers a strong, even performance as the resentful and undecided John. John of After Miss Julie is more brutal than Jean of Strindberg’s original play: when Julie asks him what she is, the short, stark answer is, "A fuck". The most disturbing and enjoyable aspect of his performance is when all three characters are on stage together. A lyrical monologue about the bell towards the end feels a little out of character, but otherwise Hauer-King is very good.
The best part of watching this is that it does not demand any knowledge of Strindberg’s play. Although it plays on Miss Julie and introduces small, crucial differences, to someone without knowledge of the textual history, the play is still immensely enjoyable.
I would definitely recommended this play as a Week Four antidote to the impending blues. Go and feast on the delightfully dysfunctional re-imagination of Strindberg’s play.
Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
'After Miss Jullie' runs at Corpus Playroom at 9.30pm until Saturday 8th. Get your tickets online at https://www.corpusplayroom.com/whats-on/drama/after-miss-julie.aspx
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