I had very high hopes for Miss Julie. The premise of the play seemed interesting, as although the story of a young titled women attempting to escape social constricts is hardly unique, I was excited to see how the love triangle between the main character, Miss Julie, her servant and his paramour, would play out. The posters looked promising and walking into the theatre I saw that the production team had succeeded in creating a stage which immediately sets the scene in a 19th century country estate.
Then the play began. Whilst the first scene, a conversation between two of the main characters, servants Jean (Alex Stutt) and Christine (Tanya Lacey-Solymar), is passable, the actors are drowned out by the background music, which is more thrilling than the action on stage. This is a problem which runs throughout the play, which is not aided by the fact that whilst Stutt and Lacey-Solymar give competent performances, they lack the chemistry needed to make Strindberg’s weighty dialogue exciting. Lacey-Solymar succeeds in making Christine’s submissive personality evident, but as a consequence she lacks any real stage presence. The dramatic entrance of Miss Julie, played by Sophie Ablett, is a welcome break, as she skilfully establishes herself as the haughty and demanding lady of the house. However, the play never really progresses past this. Even as the plot develops into an interesting power struggle between the three characters, a level of genuinely high emotional intensity is never achieved, and so it falls flat. Visually, Miss Julie is perfect.
Each of the characters looks the part, and unfortunately, this is the highest compliment I can give the play. The actors are definitely more settled in the latter parts of the play, and there are glimmers of good performances, especially from Stutt. However, they fall back into portraying their characters are stereotypes, rather than exploring the parameters of the script and really seeing what they can do. Furthermore, their performances become somewhat repetitive as each actor seems to have a go to facial expression which they use whenever the script calls for a dramatic moment What Miss Julie lacks is clear direction, as despite some competent performances, the play never really goes anywhere. Whilst I’m sure that the actors will become more confident in their roles, opening night left a lot to be desired, and was mostly forgettable.
TWO AND A HALF STARS