Saturday, July 20

Miss Julie – Park Theatre

August Strindberg’s Miss Julie formed part of my GCSE drama syllabus, so I approached yesterday’s performance with a warm, hazy nostalgic feeling. A classic love/lust between the classes scandal, set in the midst of wild and carefree Midsummer celebrations – maybe this production would compensate for the current lack of summer and merriment London currently seems to be experiencing and I’d be able to lose myself in high drama and raw passion for a short while.

Kit Hinchcliffe’s traditional set is detailed for the relatively small space, with the action so close that you can see and sometimes even smell everything that’s happening in front of you. Servants (and partners) Jean (Freddie Wild) and Christine (Adeline Waby) are setting about their evening when the Count’s daughter, Miss Julie (Katie Eldred), arrives, full of heady, Midsummer abandon and confidence. Julie is of noble blood, yet wild and longs for escape while Jean although a footman is clearly educated and refined in his way, and as the narrative progresses his bitterness at his station in life becomes ever more evident.

Photo: Mark Senior

Eldred’s Miss Julie has a petulant, childish energy about her – especially compared to Waby’s stoical and proper Christine. The Miss Julie/Jean dynamic that is the focal point of the production moves at a pace that makes for engrossing if not slightly exhausting theatre. I was never sure which of them I was rooting for – if indeed it was either of them – and the emotions were at times so heightened that it was hard to discern between joy and distress. There is a lot of feeling in this play, which is mostly captivating, but at times perhaps too much for the 75 minute run time.

There’s a lot to like here – the play itself is a classic with a story that has withstood the test of time (gender and class politics are never far from popular culture) and the direction is smooth and brings out the humour and despair in the writing. The performances are enthralling but whiplash of emotions all playing out at the highest setting makes for an intense evening of theatre that won’t be to everyone’s taste. I was definitely able to lose myself in high drama and while I wasn’t sure to what end, I’d happily recommend this production to my more “theatrical” friends.

Playing until 6th July, https://parktheatre.co.uk/event/miss-julie/

Reviewer: Zoё Meeres

Reviewed: 11th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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