After Miss Julie
CONNIE CHAPMAN is blown away by an exemplary performance
Five star reviews are relatively rare in Cambridge, and even when a show is granted such an accolade, it tends to either be down to the energy of the actors or the flawless comedy or the impressive staging or the political significance of the piece.
It is rare, in short, for even a five star play to be flawless but I cannot fault any element of After Miss Julie.
The plain, bare set came alive before our eyes; the acting was so convincing that there was no need for elaborate staging.
After Miss Julie is an adaptation of Strindberg’s (1888) classic, set in an English country house in 1945 on the night of the Labour party victory. The cast is made up of Miss Julie (Rose Reade) the daughter of the house; Christine (Kate Reid) the cook; and John (Jonah Hauer-King) the master’s lackey.
They act out the whole play, exploring themes of class, gender and duty, within the confines of the kitchens of the manor house.
In keeping with the naturalism of Stridberg’s original, After Miss Julie never once broke the illusion that the audience is watching reality from behind the fourth wall.
The acting was the best I have seen in Cambridge – once again I must use the word flawless.
The direction of Aoife Kennan was superb and served the cast well since every scene was blocked to perfection and the audience followed with rapture.
The was much reaction from the audience, one of the benefits of being in an intimate space, though this never once broke the concentration of the actors onstage.
Comic moments in the script were well executed by the dead-pan cast and by Hauer-King in particular: “Do I look ugly?” “You’re not your best.”
There was a lot of nervous tittering from the audience, too, which I can only attribute to the discomfort at the shocking but wholly convincing scene being acted before us.
The audience audibly gasped when John set ‘a few bob’ on the table before Miss Julie, recognising this unforgivable act of insubordination to his superior.
By the end of the show, all three characters had completed remarkable journeys and it is credit to the actors that each and every one of them looked changed, as though they had visibly aged in that hour and a half.
After Miss Julie is a rare chance to see top quality naturalistic theatre at Cambridge and you’re a fool if you don’t book to see it.