AFTER MISS JULIE
The MAC Theatre Belfast
Until 9th April (7.45p.m.) and matinee 2nd April (3 p.m)
The scene is set, a large and tidy kitchen in a big house, bells on the wall, willow pattern plates on the shelves. A young woman is cooking kidney and toast for the man she is almost engaged to and might one day marry. It’s late Saturday night, he has returned from his chauffeur duties for the master of the house, a man who demands and gets his lackey’s full attention. The two listen to the party in full swing outside in the garden; music spills into the kitchen, there are squeals of delight and laughter as revellers celebrate the end of World War 11.
Patrick Marber’s version of Strindberg’s play Miss Julie, a story of class and passion, is directed by Emma Jordan and set on a country estate in Co. Fermanagh.
As a convincing house maid Christine (Pauline Hutton) prepares to go off to bed their servant’s territory is invaded by the daughter of the house, Miss Julie (Lisa Dwyer Hogg) who sweeps in looking for love, or lust, or dominance over the man she knows has always fancied her. With Christine out of the way, she plays games with John (Ciaran McMeniman) she’s coquettish, leads him on and he responds. He plays out the fantasies he’s had since he was 12 and takes her virginity. What they don’t know is that Christine has gone to his room and stood watching the awful events of the night and is devastated by her betrayal. Miss Julie is giddy, unhinged perhaps and agrees to run away with John. But where will the money come from? Another problem is her caged singing bird, she can’t take it with her so she invites John to get rid of it; for some reason he decides to behead it and surely there’s something wrong when an audience erupts into gales of laughter as he does.
For me there isn’t enough light and shade in the acting and the very graphic sex scenes lack a certain amount of tension. However, the audience received the production well and gave a standing ovation.
By Anne Hailes
The plays runs until 9th April at 7.45 with a matinee on Saturday at 3 p.m.
More at www.themaclive.com