Following a viewing of After Miss Julie, Maria Whelan is full of praise for Dramsoc’s performance of Marber’s Strindberg homage
In staging After Miss Julie, by Patrick Marber, DramSoc have done a commendable job. Staying faithful to the text, director Keith Madden delivers a compelling performance of the original play.
As Marber’s script is strikingly similar to Strindberg’s naturalistic masterpiece Miss Julie, verisimilitude is paramount in the staging of this play. Keith Madden deserves to be commended on his preoccupation with this technique, as he creates a perfect illusion of reality.
Adhering to the concept, the set was furnished with everything mentioned in the script, from cigarettes to kidneys on toast. Once spectators step into the seemingly dim and dingy theatre, they are immediately drawn to the homeliness of this set, where old ditties are played on what sounds like a crackling radio, as Christine (Tara Conlon) is busy by the stove. From here, the tantalising drama unfolds.
In the confines of the warmly lit country kitchen, we see the class and gender divisions blurred between the chauffeur John (Jonathan Clarke) and the promiscuous Miss Julie (Grace McKiernan). It was both refreshing and surprising to discover, amidst his two talented fiery female counterparts, that Clarke made his debut on the Dramsoc stage.
The essence of the drama revolves around physiologically rounded characters challenging their social restraints. Julie is the daughter of a Lord, whereas John is merely a valet. Despite their disparate backgrounds, Julie revolts against the social norms and boldly initiates sexual advances towards John.
Audience participation is imperative, as we are forced to ask ourselves whether John is simply complying with his superiors’ orders, or if he is equally as crafty. The setting of After Miss Julie augments this predicament; the kitchen is often considered a place of family harmony and warmth, but instead the audience gains insight into a domestic space of deceit and bitterness.
Whether the naturalness of the performances was significantly accentuated owing to the scarcity of audience members, which always is the case on a Monday, cannot be said. Regardless, the cast adeptly conveyed the struggle between different classes as they seduce, manipulate and bicker with one another to exert their power.
Just as Julie was hesitant to leave the kitchen and go to bed, the audience was equally hesitant to vacate the smoky theatre as the cast left us wanting more.