Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

julie head

miss julie top

Jean played by Simon Hawkins and Christine played by Jenny Luke

Miss Julie

The Nonentities


IT’S easy to see why Miss Julie, written in 1888 by August Strindberg, would have created such a sensation to its first audiences, causing it to be banned by censors even before its debut.

Strindberg’s work can be said to be the birthplace of Naturalistic theatre and Miss Julie certainly contains enough complex themes to keep a psychiatrist busy for a lifetime.

The authors childhood was not an easy one and his adult life troubled again by failed relationships and alcoholism, so his vision here of the classes, sex, ambition and the church come under sharp, dark scrutiny.

Miss Julie is the daughter of a count and her own life story, and that of her parents, has created an unbalanced demeanour.

With a deeply rooted dislike of men yet a sexual urge to control them, she has come to favour her father’s valet Jean. Jean is from a poor local family and having secretly spied on Miss Julie when they were children, he now has bitter yet ambitious plans to conquer and use her to his own endsJulie

Completing the threesome is Christine, another household servant. She is an upright church abiding and virtuous woman with high ideals and plans to marry Jean, even overlooking his known infidelities.

Taking the characters in order of severity we start with Christine played by Jenny Luke. Christine seems at first to be nothing more than a passenger in the complex web of the relationships.

Marika Farr as Miss Julie

 Eventually though it is she who adds the third ironic pillar of reason into what has finally become a surreal situation. It’s perhaps the easier role of the three but was delivered with assured confidence by Miss Luke who sadly is moving on to new pastures after this play.

Next in line is the valet Jean played by Simon Hawkins. It’s often not exactly a compliment to say an actor can play such a despicably cold character so easily, but his rendition of the part is quietly evil and suitably uncompassionate

Jean is a strange mixture of servitude to his master and revulsion at their family’s wealth and position. His dreams are of climbing the social ladder to an eventual title of his own. To achieve this he eyes Miss Julie as his ticket to wealth, controlling her obsession with his own. Mr Hawkins performance was very much in keeping with Strindberg’s own insistence for a natural delivery of the lines and devoid of over dramatic gestures.

Finally at the top of the complexity pile is Miss Julie played by Marika Farr. Miss Farr shows great understanding of her craft and delivers a towering performance. Swaying from latent sexuality to disgust for Jean and then submission and final passionate breakdown is a task that needs careful consideration. To see her and Hawkins play out the intense exchanges of their roles only a couple of feet in front of you was both brave and expertly done.

With this production being staged in the studio then if there was one small critism in the direction it was that a vital and emotional point between Jean and Miss Julie was lost. With her face smeared in blood, a meat cleaver in her hand and threatening Jean in an angry exchange the engagement is played out in the corner of the room with her back to the audience and I genuinely would have liked to have seen her face so intense was Miss Farr’s delivery.

With the story played out on the simple set of the Manor Kitchen you will find there is no escape from the intensity of the action.

Under the cool direction of Hugh Meredith the Nonentities have once again blurred the lines between amateur and professional theatre and these three actors deliver a combined performance that even Strindberg would be proud of. To 14-11-15

Jeff Grant


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