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Forbidden love transcends class distinction in Strindberg’s Miss Julie



Review by Emma Whitelaw

WHAT on earth could possess a woman of nobility to renounce her heredity in one mere night of passion with none other than her footman? Is it love, lust or some greater force at play?

As part of StoneCrabs Feminine Nature series Greenwich Playhouse presents August Strindberg’s classic, Miss Julie.

Strindberg himself, like Darwin and Marx, was a naturalist and believed that the key influences on man were genetic and environmental and, as a result, man was not in control of his destiny, being motivated by instinctual drives while lacking any real power.

An extremely interesting concept and one which is explored in Miss Julie as the daughter of a well respected Count takes to the bed of a lowly servant.

Davies Grey is simply stunning as the scarlet woman in question. Her portrayal of Miss Julie, the young girl tempted by 'fate', is nothing short of brilliant. As are the performances given by both Anthony Jardine, as Jean the footman, and Abigail Hubbert, as Christine, Jean’s ill-fated fiancée.

As mistress of the house, Miss Julie has the servants at her every beckoned call. There is nothing that they would dare deny her and when she asks Jean to dance with her, much to his defiance and in full knowledge that it will set many a tongue wagging, he simply must dance.

There’s no denying Jean’s attraction to Miss Julie. He even admits, albeit reluctantly, that as a child he once loved her. He loved her so deeply that the thought that he could never be with her drove him to suicidal thoughts.

Julie is taken aback by his confession and lures him even deeper into lust. Much the vixen, she forgets herself (and her status!) and allows her natural instincts to override any rationality that she may have.

Jean, too, lets his heart rule his head. He, too, knows the consequences of their passion, yet somehow neither of them seems to care. Could it be that Darwin was right?

Could it be that Jean and Julie; although governed by strict socio/sexual boundaries, deny all commonsense and in turn have no control over their fate?

What then transpires in the play’s conclusion evokes all kinds of socio-economic and morally challenging questions.

The company’s aim to explore choices and their consequences, along with using theatre to nourish, inspire, challenge, and inform, certainly is a noble one and one in which I would argue that they have outstandingly succeeded.

Something must also be said about the exquisite costuming throughout the play. The dresses of Miss Julie were impeccable, as was the symbolic use of colour. The set, too, although minimal was just as intricately striking.

Down to the very last detail; the entire production is a delight to behold!

Miss Julie by August Strindberg, adapted by Franko Figueiredo. Produced by Stonecrabs. Directed by Franko Figueiredo and Natacha Metherell. Starring Abigail Hubbert, Anthony Jardine and Davies Grey.

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