Miss Julie- Park Theatre, London

Reviewer: Monica Cox

Writer: August Strindberg

Director: Max Harrison

The premise of Miss Julie – a complicated romantic relationship between a gentry servant and his mistress – might seem simple in concept, but Strindberg’s writing masterfully navigates the intricate dynamics of gender and status in the 1800s.

Before Miss Julie even enters the scene, Jean disdainfully utters her name which starkly contrasts with her lively and vivacious entrance. Initially, Miss Julie appears witty and charming, albeit with a noticeable lack of empathy and disregard for those she deems inferior. However, Katie Eldred’s nuanced performance gradually unveils the desperation and entrapment beneath her exterior.

The nearly real-time portrayal of events unfolding over one night reveals how the delirium of a passionate, sleepless night brings out the most vulnerable and worst aspects of the characters. Early on, they discuss their dreams – Jean’s ambition to rise and Julie’s desire to descend. Jean’s plea, “Fall down to me, I’ll lift you up again,” serves as a powerful visual metaphor for the complexities of 19th-century serfdom hierarchy.

Max Harrison’s direction is both delicate in the performances the actors give, fluid in the constant change of emotions and tone and dynamic in insightful staging in the round. The perfectly timed piece is most notable through the moment when Christine simply goes through a series of mundane kitchen tasks whilst her fiancée dances with the mistress of the house. Adeline Waby’s no-nonsense portrayal infuses strength into Christine’s character, making her patience and resilience profoundly impactful.

Freddie Wise’s Jean is mesmerising, stealing the show with a performance rich in emotional depth. His ability to oscillate between villainous cruelty and moving vulnerability adds great complexity to his character. The palpable chemistry between Jean and Miss Julie leaves the audience questioning how such a fraught relationship can harbour love.

Overall, Miss Julie delivers a heart-rending performance, thanks to a talented cast and a skilful creative team which breathes new life into this classic, highlighting the intricate dynamics of the character relationships.

Runs until 6 July 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

Mesmerising in perfect timing

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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