Skip to main content

Miss Julie

Perth Theatre
Four stars

The party is in full swing at the start of Shilpa T-Hyland’s new studio production of Strindberg’s cross-class psycho-sexual power play, dragged into 1920s rural Scotland in Zinnie Harris’s vivid version. Below stairs, alas, Helen Mackay’s maid Christine can only hear the good times going on elsewhere as she stomps her martyr-like way through her chores.

When Lorn Macdonald’s flinty fellow servant John bursts in, having effectively gatecrashed a boozy workers’ midsummer do which his young mistress Julie also wafts through, it is with the barricade-hooping zeal of a convert who just found a cause, even as his ambition gets the better of him. The General Strike is on, revolution is in the air and he has a bottle of stolen wine and two women to let down. It is Julie’s similarly tipsy arrival on the scene, however, that really ruffles everybody’s feathers.

Set on the clinically clean kitchen of Jen McGinley’s set and bathed in Grant Anderson’s crisp, biscuit-coloured lighting, T-Hyland’s production is a wilfully young affair, and there is an adolescent, all-elbows awkwardness to John and Julie’s love/hate flirtation before it lurches into a full-blown one-night stand.

The morning after resembles the fallout of a teenage party, with John initially as full of boastful cock-sure swagger as Christine is of wounded disappointment at having to play gooseberry, even as she keeps her dignity intact. Played by Hiftu Quasem with a haughty flourish, Julie’s grand gestures appear brattily immature, her attention-seeking also pointing up how much she’s been traumatised by a seemingly privileged upbringing which has left her emotionally damaged.

All of which gives a fascinating and refreshing angle on a play which ends in failure, both of the supposed brave new dawn the strike was supposed to bring with it, and of the personal consequences of similarly rash actions. With John’s brief glimpse at apparent freedom dashed by Julie’s drastic solution to things, the party is well and truly over for them all.

The Herald, February 20th 2019



Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …