This week I went to see After Miss Julie at the Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork. The play is produced by London Classic Theatre, a company whose plays I have seen and appreciated before, and directed by Michael Cabot.
After Miss Julie is Patrick Marber’s revision of a Swedish play by John August Strindberg. You might better know Marber for writing the play and film Closer, and one can find a similar interest in complex sexual relationships in both works.
After Miss Julie is set just after the war in Britain. Unmarried couple, Christine (Helen Barford) and John (Andy Dowbiggin), work for a lord, whose daughter, Miss Julie (Kathryn Ritchie) uses and abuses the power her position gives her to seduce John. Although John loves Christine, he is consumed with desire for Miss Julie, while at the time remaining aware of the potential consequences of this affair.
The play is raw and emotions are brought to their extreme, including onstage passionate scenes. The protagonists keep oscillating between love and hate, which becomes a little bit irritating at times, and their affair is passionate and doomed. The acting is excellent and renders the complexity of this triangular relationship with accuracy. I found Ritchie’s performance as the rich powerful girl particularly remarkable and her character is more complex than it appeared at first.
I would also give a special mention to Pete Foster for the lightning. It added so much to the atmosphere of a play that does not rely on plot.