Expectations are dangerous things. Walking into the New Diorama again to see another part of The Faction’s rep season, I was greeted by revellers humming the conga. The party was in full swing, we were invited to take our seats and wait our turn. I should have instead been looking at the pious Kristin (Kate Sawyer) as she cooked the kidney she plucked from her master’s veal. Her dour demeanour was a truer indication of what lay ahead.
Miss Julie is a thought-provoking and powerfully performed piece of theatre. It is virtually a two-hander, as Jean (Cary Crankson) and Miss Julie (Leonie Hill) flirt and feud and fret through the 90-minute run time.
I was never quite sure where the script would go next. It begins with Kristin doting on the charming Jean as he regales her with stories. We learn that Kristin and Jean are engaged, or as near enough as they can be on meagre servant’s wages.
No sooner has Jean promised Kristin the next dance that the tipsy and mischievous Miss Julie saunters in and orders the return of her favoured dance partner, Jean. Kristin sits the dance out and goes to sleep. No sooner has she closed her eyes than some first rate flirting fires up between the two leads.
I thoroughly enjoyed this half of the play. The teasing, the secrecy, the taboo. I was mesmerised as Jean was caught by the barbs of temptation. But the second half didn’t match up. The intensity only increased from there on in. The situation grew darker with each thorny remark and exposed deceit. The two actors gave everything they had with grief marked on their cheeks. I cannot fault their talent but the story left me cold.
The sympathy held for these characters was eroded bit by bit until I felt that they deserved each other and their unhappiness. The charm was merely a pretence and status was won by a whore’s trick. I didn’t like what I was seeing simply because I didn’t want it to be true.
The end of the play began to dip into lunacy as the characters felt it preferable to reality. Had I been prepared for it I could have really enjoyed this turn, but I found it strange. Where was the party I wanted to be a part of? Where were the revellers?
My notions got in the way of my fully enjoying this well acted play. I urge you to go expecting the unexpected for many secrets lie buried below Miss Julie’s home. The Faction are an inventive and strong ensemble – I anticipate great things from them in the future.
Miss Julie is being performed as part of the REP Season by Faction Theatre at New Diorama Theatre. For more information and tickets, see the New Diorama Theatre’s website.