Miss Julie, 4****, London

by August Strindberg
in a new adaptation by Howard Brenton.

Jermyn Street Theatre, 16B Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST to 2 December 2017.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 90 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7287 2875
Review: William Russell 15 November,

A fine revival brilliantly performed
An evening of passion, lust sated and lust frustrated, social climbing and self destruction, Tom Littler’s production Miss Julie in a new version by Howard Brenton is about as good as it gets. The tension, as the daughter of the house seduces the valet on Midsummer Eve while the locals are celebrating in an off stage bacchanal, is palpable and Littler has secured powerful performances from his cast. As Julie Charlotte Hamblin is wonderfully taut and nervy, a cat on a hot tin roof who gets her paws fatally burnt, insisting on a droit de madame just because she can. As Jean, her father’s valet and her chosen victim, although he is willing enough to be seduced, James Sheldon creates a calculating careerist who sees in someone he has lusted after a chance to better himself. He oozes common as muck with pretensions to knowing about upper class behaviour – where he aspires to end up although he will never be a gentleman – which contrasts beautifully with Ms Hamblin’s upper class poise, the feeling of being able to do whatever one wants with those who serve. If they elope – he assumes she has money – he has plans. She just wants to escape from her life. Meanwhile his fiancée, Kristin the cook, asleep while all this is going, on shows common sense in the face of the revelations – and resignation. This is how “they” behave. She knows her place and knows how to make the best of it.

It all ends disastrously, as one knows it will. Littler takes his time getting things going as Kristin, a beautifully observed performance from Izabella Urbanowicz, cooks Jean’s dinner. It is a long, wordless scene, not there on the page as the text suggests the play starts with Jean’s entrance, but while it tries the patience it also sets the scene of life below stairs. This potent production of Strindberg’s much produced play has a handsome well lit set and the sound effects – the noise from the party we never see, the bird song outside – add to the mood.

Kristin: Izabella Urbanowicz
Jean: James Sheldon.
Julie: Charlotte Hamblin.

Director: Tom Littler.
Set & Costume Designer: Louie Whitemore.
Lighting Designer: Johanna Town.
Composer & Sound Designer: Max Pappenheim.
Assistant Director: Gabriella Bird.

2017-11-17 10:04:26

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