If you have time this weekend, consider attending this play. If I cannot say that you’ll certainly be thrilled with the theme, I can at least guarantee great acting.
50% Fruit Theatre presents Miss Julie, a play about a wealthy woman, daughter of a count, who has a tendency to flirt with men—particularly, with the help. The play focuses on the relationship that a young woman such as Julie (Kerri Johnson), of class and status, has with Jean (Zachary Parsons-Lozinsk), a servant of his father who also maintains a relationship with a woman who works in the kitchen (Christine, performed by Janine Hodder). After a drunken night in which Jean’s and Julie’s platonic relationship turns carnal, they must now figure out how to deal with the consequences of their moment of love and/or lust, and with the judgement and dishonour that Julie has brought upon her family.
No particular year or place is overtly set, but given the language and the dialogue I could infer that the events take place somewhere in Europe during the late 1800’s. After doing some research on the story, I found that the play was written in 1888 by August Strindberg and sets in 1874, in Sweden. Nevertheless, the choices made to decorate the set (blue bins acting as table legs, old bottle boxes to store objects, a small microwave) intend to move the play to a more relevant time and bound it to the present. The stage is not particularly elaborate but it serves its purpose well, but unlike other plays I have had the chance to see at the Fringe, I do see Miss Julie benefiting from a more extravagant or rich stage.
All three actors played their part convincingly; it was an Incredible performance by all of them which included moments of intense acting, such as crying, yelling, physical aggression and sexual scenes. There is no nudity, but there was some explicit language and body movements of a sexual nature. I recognized actor and director Parsons-Lozinski from Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, which was also an extraordinary play, and his talent really shows when you compare his character of a gay, troubled adolescent, with his cold and sexual character in this play.
The script is beautiful: the words flow perfectly and as if each one of them belonged to the exact moment in which they are pronounced. It is hard to explain how beautifully written the script is when the subject and the words spoken are brutally sexual and tough. It was the contrast between content and presentation what allowed me to get lost in the play—the hour went flying and I was left hungry for more of the story; I was so engaged in that the ending took me by surprise.
Miss Julie requires audience participation which can be awkward without people’s cooperation, since they ask that as a particular character enters the scene the audience yells, according to whoever enters, either “kitchen slut,” “cock sucker,” or “whore.” I did not felt particularly comfortable yelling, but some members of the audience welcomed the invitation. Due to the number of people in the audience who participated, it did not have the effect perhaps intended, and I can imagine that hearing it from a big crowd would be a great addition to the already intense play.
Miss Julie is certainly for a mature audience and can be crude, but not too crude for comfort. What is most important is the way the story presents the themes of love, sex, gender, and class in a dark and genuine way, and presenting it as a contemporary happening, since issues such as those presented in the play continue to be relevant.
It was a real shame that the venue had little attendance, which could be attributed to the time and the location. But with two shows left, I strongly recommend attending this play. While the play is for a mature audience and may be not for everyone, if you want to see an excellent performance I strongly recommend Miss Julie.
There is a show today, August 25 at 5:00 PM and another one tomorrow, August 26, at 2:30 PM. For tickets and more information on schedule and location please visit Fringe Theatre Adventure‘s website or YEGLive.ca. Tickets: $12.50, Seniors and Students $10.