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As a first time Director, Anthony Bird showed a good insight into the piece, and the experienced cast no doubt brought their various skills to bear in what was a dark but also occasionally amusing play.
The set was extremely good, encapsulating the feel of a kitchen in a large house with good attention to detail. I liked the stove, and the light shining through the window above it.
The costumes were very good – well-
The scene was set nicely by Christine (Christine Rayment), who was on stage as the audience took their seats, and proceeded to set the table etc, which accompanied by suitably atmospheric music entered us into this late 19th century life. The sound effects of the midsummer revelries were good, in that they gave the feel of a party but did not impair the action on stage.
Christine gave the part a nice understanding of the position of a housekeeper in this era, relying on her beliefs and the subservience inbuilt within her and a calm, quiet sense of her acceptance of her place in the household, making her descent into anger more telling.
I am not very familiar with Strindberg’s writing, but I can imagine the uproar this
play must have caused in the late 1880’s when it was first presented, I found it
interesting in the way it highlighted the various levels for Jean (Peter Carter-
I would have liked Hayley and Peter to play a little more to the audience sometimes, as I felt some of their facial expressions were lost to certain sides of the auditorium when they were facing square on to each other, which would have made their performances even more impactful.
Hayley provided a very complex Miss Julie, vulnerable, but also patrician, playing on her position to influence some sort of relationship with Jean. I liked the nuances of her performance, sometimes argumentative, occasionally sensuous, commanding, looking like a match for Jean, but then crumbling under his hypnotic suggestions.
I found this production to be a perceptive study of the mistress v servant relationship, which was acted and presented exceedingly well. I liked the final entrance and tableau, it maintained the feel of the production for me.
review date: 20th March 2019
Little Theatre, Dunstable
Director: Anthony Bird