Saturday, 27 February 2016

Miss Julie - Review

Etcetera Theatre, London


Written by August Strindberg
Translated by Michael Meyer
Directed by Gary Condes

Danielle Henry, Charlie Dorfman and Laura Greenwood

Written originally by August Strindberg and translated here by Michael Meyer, Miss Julie is set on Midsummers Eve during a party on the estate of a rich Swedish Count whose daughter is known for behaving, not only with wild abandon, but also below her status. She finds a fascination with the older and well educated valet of the estate, Jean and the two become entangled in a dangerous infatuation that endangers both his engagement with the family cook and her own status in the house.

Laura Greenwood plays the titular Julie and while during points of extreme and heightened emotion, she is committed and impressive, her more relaxed and informal moments lack conviction. A deeply disturbed character such as Julie demands a more complex passionate emotion to lie behind her eyes.

Similarly there is a lack of convincing chemistry between Greenwood and Charlie Dorfman who plays Jean the valet. The struggle of circumstance and passionate attraction between the pair, separated by class and education, should hold the two in a fiery grip – and this is, at times, absent.

Dorfman clearly has the makings of a strong and versatile actor. There is intention behind his choices and in his moments of stillness he is truly moving. However, his accent was unplaceable, with a mix of Northern, Scottish and at times London intonations. This is nothing that a voice coach cannot fix but it should be done quickly! 

Danielle Henry as Kristin, the household cook and, critically, Dorfman’s fiancĂ©e, has of the three performers, significantly less stage time however she radiates a beautiful truth. The thought process behind each line and movement is visible from the beginning – from struggling to take the laundry down from the walls, to giving a moving speech about her belief in God. Henry is by far the play's shining performer.

The creative team behind this production are experienced and have sound vision. Carla Goodman’s set is detailed with an old fashioned stove, ornaments and dried herbs and flowers hanging from every nook and cranny, setting a rustic feel that only adds to the authenticity of the 19th century kitchen in which the whole play takes place. Likewise, Goodman’s costumes also excellent.

Situated above The Oxford Arms pub, the Etcetera Theatre embodies the class that London's fringe theatre deserves. The space is charming and the acoustics are wonderful. Notwithstanding its flaws, the execution and design of Miss Julie is impressive and The Buckland Theatre Company should be proud of their premiere production.

Runs until 19th March
Guest reviewer: Charlotte Darcy
Photo credit: Darren Bell

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