by Patrick Marber
Directed by Denis Moore
With Olivia Connolly, Daniel Frederiksen & Sarah Sutherland
Set Design by Shaun Gurton
Stage Manager Alex Pryor
After Miss Julie (18 April – 19 May, 2007) Bill Perrett, Sunday Age 29/04/07
Patrick Marber’s play is a version of the August Strindberg classic, reset in post-war England. It dramatises the same tensions between the intelligent and attractive servant, John (Daniel Frederiksen), and the disturbed daughter of the lord of the manor, Miss Julie (Sarah Sutherland). The latter, not averse to a bit of rough, sets about the seduction of the former, despite the intermittent presence of John’s fiancee, Christine (Olivia Connolly), and the proximity at a dance of the other estate servants, who like nothing better than a juicy scandal.
Like Strindberg, Marber is interested in the way class interacts with sexual attraction; another kind of power, but one that owes nothing to social position.
This is a striking, deliberate production that builds its atmosphere slowly with pauses and absences (at one point the stage is empty) as much as with action. Sutherland’s Julie veers from little-girl coquetry to shrill hysteria, torn between ingrained consciousness of her birth and urgent desire. Frederiksen’s John moves between teasing, testing the edges of his “place”, and angrily demanding equality. Both reflect the broader society that voted in a Labour government in the 1945 election. Connolly’s Christine is chilling in her religious and social certainties. A tense, dangerous production.
Chris Boyd, Herald Sun 23/04/07
Instead of a midsummer night in Sweden in the 19th century, Patrick Marber’s rewrite of Miss Julie is set on a summer’s night in England in 1945. Only months after VE day, Churchill’s Conservative government has been trounced at the general election by Labour, under Clement Attlee.
Playwright Patrick Marber, who calls his play After Miss Julie, is remarkably faithful to the spirit of August Strindberg’s play in which the daughter of a count gets down and dirty with the hired help. Julie, Strindberg’s and Marber’s, is sexually precocious but inexperienced.
Strindberg’s footman Jean is Marber’s chauffeur John, the Swedish servant Kristin is now kitchenhand Christine. But Julie is Julie is Julie. The same in any language. Capricious, wilful and dangerous.
Having dirty-danced the staff, Julie chases her father’s chauffeur to the kitchen, where his fiancee waits. In a typical Julie moment, she hold out a cigarette for Christine to light in a coldly demanding way. A second later, she offers Christine a ciggie.
With the fall of conservatism, this is the end of an era. This is the moment when industry is about to be socialised. It might just be the end of class itself.
Marber’s play, written for television in the mid-1990s, is brilliantly witty; jokey and clever. It fairly crackles with smart lines. But it has the sting of a bullwhip in its second half.
Julie is a dream role and Sarah Sutherland eats up the part in gulps.
Even as Marber botches the ending — the balance between John and Julie is markedly different than in the original — we never doubt the actors or their choices. That’s a great credit to Sutherland, Daniel Frederiksen, who plays the proud and panicked John, and to director Denis Moore.
Red Stitch chalks up another Australian premiere with the style we’ve come to expect.