How exciting it is to see The Faction Theatre company complete its first full season of rep theatre, with this new translation of Strindberg’s classic Miss Julie.
This is an enticing and dark piece of theatre which explores a game of love and power between the powerful, Miss Julie, played by Leonie Hill, and the powerless, Jean, Cary Crankson; mistress and servant. Throughout the piece we question who really has the power . In Strindberg’s world money and status do not automatically ordain one with superiority.
The fusion of theatricality and our perceived reality is mesmeric
The minimal set comprises a table and a few chairs, relying on the actors to create the rest through mime. As we enter the space, which is set in the round, we are confronted by Kristin, Kate Sawyer, working in a kitchen. It is not long before we notice the muffled voices coming from the ensemble behind us, indicating a party upstairs. Through Jon Edgley Bond’s numerous sound effects and Mark Leipacher’s physical theatre direction, we can ‘see’ everything in the space from the insignificant action of putting a glass down on a table, to when Miss Julie smears blood over her face – causing the audience to shudders. There is no glass, nor blood, but the actions are so perfectly timed with the sound effects that everything becomes real. The fusion of theatricality and our perceived reality is mesmeric. In order for these effects to work the actors are forced to be very physically energised which makes them engaging to watch.
In this intimate space Sawyer does well, giving a measured and natural performance, particularly at the beginning of the play. Hill has an excited, youthful and naive energy. She is restless and wreckless. Her performance has a presence which oozes sensuality from every pore. We can see sexual desire in her eyes, and her voice is full of fluid emotion creating thick imagery. As Miss Julie, she is captivating. Crankson is a strong Jean, with fierce intensity, but in order for us to fully witness the shifts of power between Miss Julie and him, his performance needs more light and shade.
The Faction Theatre Company has devised a fascinating piece of theatre forcing us to see a very real world in a strikingly bare set.
*** (3 stars)
Runs in repertory until February 18th