Rattlestick Playwrights Theater
By AUGUST STRINDBERG
Adapted by CRAIG LUCAS
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, May 12 – June 19, 2005
Directed by ANDERS CATO
Scenic Design JOHN McDERMOTT
Costume Design OLIVERA GAJIC
Lighting Design ED McCARTHY
Original Music and Sound Design SCOTT KILLIAN
Fight Choreographer RICK SORDELET
Stage Manager PAIGE VAN DEN BURG
Press Representation OPR/ORIGLIO PUBLIC RELATIONS
Miss Julie – Marin Hinkle
Jean – Reg Rogers
Kristine – Julia Gibson
MISS JULIE may have been born of the author’s misogyny, but the resulting drama draws its central male and female characters in equally ugly and hysterical roles. This is a psychologically brutal play where themes of class and gender equality are draped in sex, madness and jealousy. In the end, there is no particular moral high road to follow, and the struggle we have witnessed is but one of a much larger war.
Getting to specifics, MISS JULIE revolves around a young woman of means, Miss Julie, and her socially inappropriate interest in her father’s servant, Jean. Easily manipulated into a sexual encounter with Jean, Julie is just as easily convinced by him that her life, now in ruins due to her indiscretions, can only be salvaged if she flees with him and funds a new life abroad. Matters turn from twisted to vicious when Julie admits to having no money of her own. The final result is that Miss Julie, debased and degraded, is made to pay financially, physically and emotionally for her fall from pious purity into the realm of her mere, mortal servants. In other words, she represents a classic – the woman punished for acting on her sexual urges.
MISS JULIE is the kind of work that has and does inspire psychological and sociological analysis. It is ripe for that. What is important here, however, is the quality of this particular adaptation. Overall, it is good. There is some interesting design work that allows, in a step away from traditional staging, the audience to witness the coupling of Julie and Jean through backlit screen vignettes even as a lone, anonymous man trashes the kitchen. Traditionally, the sex act itself is merely implied and revealed through the script. Marin Hinkle finds the right mix of lust, hysteria, indignation and hopelessness in her Miss Julie, and Julia Gibson does the most with the role of the cook, Kristine, who is engaged to the wayward Jean. Reg Rogers’ Jean, while often engaging and credible in his duplicitous speeches, still comes across as too kind a character to bring Miss Julie to the depths of despair he is meant to.
In the end, this MISS JULIE represents a valiant effort to refresh an oft-produced work. Minor problems taken into consideration, it is a play worthy of seeing, especially as presented by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.
- Kessa De Santis -