Miss Julie by August Strindberg. Translation by Michael Meyer, directed by Eulea Kiraly in a double bill (with Elektra a.d. by Christos Tsiolkas). The Street Theatre Thurs 7 - Sat 9 and Wed 13 - Sat 16 October, 8pm. Matinee Sat 16 Oct, 1999, 2pm.
"We'll go to another country, to a republic" says the servant Jean to his lady Miss Julie. Why a republic? Because now they have made love across the rigid divide of 19th Century social class, neither can be free in a monarchy - even Sweden. Strindberg switched this little spotlight on, and see it now glint even on our very own referendum on November 6 a century later.
Some have thought this play an early naturalistic drama, but Eulea Kiraly has directed it precisely for its symbolism - and her actors have met her high expectations. Each twist and turn of seduction in the triangle of Christine (Alexis Beebe) - the servant who knows her place; Jean (Lachlan Abrahams) - the ambitious servant seeking entrée to the nobility; and Miss Julie (Lenore McGregor) - the unstable lady who falls from grace, is marked by a movement, a look and a silence which leaves us in no doubt about what is happening. These people are trapped in a social hierarchy about to collapse around them.
Of course, the Republic of Indonesia has shown us that the trappings of monarchy are not so easily disposed of: Miss Julie, effectively penniless, kindly commits suicide in Strindberg's black optimism, rather than thrashing the living daylights out of the lower orders in her death throes.
This production is worth seeing not just for its messages, but because the cast have invested emotional integrity into a script that could too easily be merely melodramatic, despite the author's intentions, just because it is a 19th Century play. Their timing is excellent, often deliberately paced to allow the intensity of the moment to grow but without going over the top. An audience on opening night of theatre buffs, easily critical if not cynical, found humour and horror in the lights and shades, and audibly felt relief at the end.
The Season at The Street is enhanced by this production. Highly recommended.© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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