I went to the Young Vic Theatre to pick up my ticket for After Miss Julie, you should all have seen my surprised looking face when a lady at the box office told me : tickets for After Miss Julie aren’t being ticketed. You probably wonder why; well it was a part of the director’s concept for this production to save as much energy from the national grid by not printing tickets. Instead it worked as a guest list at the box office. I just needed my name and postcode to pick up my recyclable token ticket for the performance.
Patrick Marber’s ‘After Miss Julie’ ,a version of August Strinberg’s pathfinding 1888 tragedy about class division and desire, puts a new engine in an old chassis.The play takes us to 1945 England and it all begins on the night of the British Labour Party’s landslide victory over Winston Churchill and the Conservative. We meet Miss Julie,John- the chauffeur, and Christine – Miss Julie’s Maid.As we learn in the play’s first lines,Miss Julie,played by a very talented Natalie Dormer (Casanova,Game of Thrones), has a habit of making a reckless spectacle of herself.By turning sexual and social decorum in its head,she projects her craziness onto others; they end up confounded,instead of her.
John,by contrast,played by my favourite theatre and TV actor Kieran Bew(Richard II,Whistleblower, Walking the Dead),is defined by desire to rise. Each needs something in the other,though they don’t need each other.John sees Miss Julie and her wealth (consciously) as a chance at life; Miss Julie sees John and his forcefulness( unconsciously) as a change at death. And here comes Christine,played by Polly Frame ( Macbeth,New Tricks) ,a cook and John’s bride-to-be.She witnesses John’s infidelity. Even though she’s been betrayed by the man she loves,Christine still thinks that there’s a future for her and John.
Photo by Alastair Muir
The set is simple.Dingy kitchen,dominated by a long pine table;which during the course of the evening comes to represent the social divide between John,Julie Christine.Simple and small sink,an old stove made us feel like we were back in 1940s.I have to admit that the play was very good. It was the most tense 90 minutes of my life.I should also point out that the performances from Natalie,Polly and Kieran were impeccable.
‘After Miss Julie’ runs until 14 April 2012
Written by Maggie Gogler