Gig City reviews "After Miss Julie": 5 Stars

Read the review from Colin MacLean in full here: https://www.gigcity.ca/2019/08/22/fringe-2019-2-dramatic-dramas/

Excellent work is put in by Samantha Jeffery as Christine. She’s John’s abandoned girlfriend and succeeds with giving real heart to a rather colourless loser who is swept away by the passion of the other two. She will probably be the real winner, and the only one with a future in the emotional maelstrom that engulfs these people.

After Miss Julie

Stage 22 (The Grindstone)

It’s 1888, and that Swedish rascal August Strindberg has done it again. In his best naturalistic style, he’s written a play about a bored aristocratic young lady named Miss Julie, who goes searching for sexual adventure below stairs, and finds a ready accomplice with the well-travelled, cultured Jean, her father’s valet. Scandalous!

In 2003, English playwright Patrick Marber updated the tale and set it in 1945 just as Churchill’s Tory Party was defeated. It may be six decades even later but, apparently, little has changed in the effects social structures have on relationships.

In this production at the Fringe the lovely but self-destructive Julie (Nikki Hulowski) is on the prowl and John (Joshua Meredith) is the ready accomplice.

Strindberg originally wrote his work primarily about an intellectual class struggle. The less encumbered Marber has his played out in the bedroom. In this, he’s helped by actors Hulowski, who is a very sexy Julie, and Meredith, who knows he is batting way above his average, but makes an eager partner.

Julie, reverting to her superior social station, chides him, “Remember your position.”  He replies cheekily, “Which position? There were so many.”

Is Miss Julie a slumming rich girl looking for thrills, power and submission? Is John able to throw off a lifetime of subservience to take full advantage of the passion on offer? The two are really doomed to live out an ever shifting version of Hegel’s master–slave dialectic.

The balance in this excellent Max Rubin production shifts back and forth while challenging our own perceptions of who these people are, and what they represent.

Hulowski makes a terrific Miss Julie. Willful, mercurial, sulky, sexy and self-involved, her emotions are as changeable as an Edmonton summer. Meredith is drawn to her beauty but afraid of his reputation and his own emotions. After a night of passion, they battle back and forth. She thinks she loves him. He professes his love but when he realizes the position it puts him in, he says defensively, “It was just a roll in the hay.”

“Am I just your conquest, then?” she demands.

The penniless chauffeur and the pampered woman-child dream of running away to New York – something that will never happen. Meredith skillfully draws the unstable and shifting boundaries he is faced with.

Excellent work is put in by Samantha Jeffery as Christine. She’s John’s abandoned girlfriend and succeeds with giving real heart to a rather colourless loser who is swept away by the passion of the other two. She will probably be the real winner, and the only one with a future in the emotional maelstrom that engulfs these people.

5 out of 5