by August Strindberg new version by Emily Juniper.
New Diorama 15-16 Triton Street Regents Place NW1 3BF In rep to 18 February 2012.
7.30pm 27, 31 Jan, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 18 February.
Runs 1hr 35min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7383 9034.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 26 January.
Strong Strindberg from the Faction factory.
Once again the New Diorama shape-shifts for Strindberg’s 1888 sex-and-class-hate tragedy. Reconfiguration into a thrust stage allows a view along a theatre corridor, down which Julie slowly walks as the lights finally fade. She’s a fallen woman after midsummer sex with Jean; fallen from social status and self-esteem. Here the suicide that must follow is powerfully overwhelmed by the sense she’s fading out of life.
It’s part of a freshly-thought production which makes up for any limitation in technique, or the searching detail some previous performances provided, by its clarity. And it’s definitely a three-person play. Emily Juniper’s English version makes clear that, alongside Julie’s fascination with descent and Jean’s with climbing, Kristin’s concerned with staying on a level.
Kristin’s Calvinism fits awkwardly with the modern, youthful feel of Mark Leipacher’s production, but Kate Sawyer ensures her relation with fellow-servant and prospective husband Jean is established in its own right before Julie enters, while her sourly gloating smile at outwitting the others is a secular match for Kristin’s religious strictness.
Having an ensemble from two larger-scale plays available means Strindberg’s briefly-seen peasants are more than the usual cost-saving sound effects. (Actually, sound effects are effectively incorporated in the production’s style, mimed glasses and crockery being heard but not seen.) The drunken revellers’ disruption of the kitchen is surprisingly tame – offstage there’s orgasms going on – but at other times the actors, sat behind audience members, create a distant raucousness, a disturbance suggesting the social and sexual disorder created by the protagonists.
The central contest between Julie and Jean is one, here, that might be overheard in any street or bar around town. Leonie Hill moves from elegant confidence and sheltered-life childhood to a woman’s angry despair with whiplash speed when she realises she’s trapped with Jean, whom Cary Crankson gives the almost vulnerable insolence of a man aware of the cruelty implicit in his instincts, and the limits of his confidence. For he remains his master’s servant, the Count’s high-boots standing upright in the morning light from outside, symbol of his mental servitude – and one detail in this production’s stark, intelligent clarity.
Jean: Cary Crankson.
Julie: Leonie Hill.
Kristin: Kate Sawyer.
Revellers: Andrew Chevalier, Richard Delaney, Gareth Fordred, Shai Matheson, Lachlan McCall, Jonny McPherson, Derval Mellett, Tom Radford.
Director: Mark Leipacher.
Lighting: Martin Dewar.
Associate director: Rachel Valentine Smith.
Associate composer: Tom Whitelaw.