After Miss Julie – Project Arts Centre – Review

AMJ -71 Credit Ciaran Bagnall

After Miss Julie – Project Arts Centre – Review

Until 19 March 2016 8.00pm, 19 Mar 3.00pm €16

Christine can hear the celebrations from the barn. It is VE day and all the other staff are outside dancing and celebrating. She is still working in the kitchen though, preparing dinner for her fiancé John who will return shortly. They were set to be married, but once the war started they put all that aside. Miss Julie is outside with the staff. She has danced with a number of the men and seems to be quite out of control. Little does Christine know she seems to have set her affections on one man…

Miss Julie was originally written in 1888 by August Strindberg. In 1995 Patrick Marber reworked the play, setting it in an English country house in July 1945. This latest reincarnation of the play is again written by Marber, but is now set on VE day (8th May 1945) in a large country house in Fermanagh.  This new setting alters the dynamic one more time and allows the writer to explore Northern Ireland in this period.  This version focuses on the three main characters of Miss Julie, John who is her father’s chauffer and Christine, a maid who is also John’s fiancée and lover.

The set is very impressive with a surprisingly vivid recreation of a kitchen in a big house. There is real attention to detail, as so many elements within it look just right, from the stone floor to the stove, sink and even to the pheasants hanging on the wall. The lighting is another pleasing element as daylight streams in from the two windows on one side of the stage.

Lisa Dwyer Hogg creates a fascinating version of Julie. She transforms from a spoiled rich kid in the first act to a deeply damaged, vulnerable soul in the later stages of the play. Miss Julie’s logic seems strained and her unbalanced nature adds an unpredictability to the proceedings that is intriguing to watch. Her interplay with Ciaran McMenamin as John is absorbing and is the centre piece of this production.

There is always a danger with work such as this that it becomes a polemic and the characters talk for their class and not from their individual character’s perspective. While this does happen on occasion, there is more than enough complexity to unravel in these deeply flawed individuals. The class and social issues are of secondary importance to the dynamic between the three characters. This is a very intense and affecting production that builds to the powerful finale.

Cast: Lisa Dwyer Hogg, Pauline Hutton, Ciaran McMenamin
Directed by Emma Jordan
Design by Sarah Bacon
Lighting Design by Ciaran Bagnall
Sound Design by Carl Kennedy

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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