Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director
Harold Wolpert, Managing Director
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
Sienna Miller, Jonny Lee Miller,
After Miss Julie
By Patrick Marber
A version of August Strindbergís Miss Julie
Directed by Mark Brokaw
American Airlines Theatre
227 West 42nd Street
Set Design: Allen Moyer
Costume Design: Michael Krass
Lighting Design: Mark McCullough
Original Music and Sound Design: David Van Tieghem
Dialect Coach: Deborah Hecht
Wig Design: Paul Huntley
Fight Director: Thomas Schall
Production Stage Manager: James FitzSimmons
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA
Production Management: Aurora Productions
General Manager: Rebecca Habel
Director of Marketing - Sales Promotions: David B. Steffen
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Assoc. Artistic Director: Scott Ellis
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 23, 2009
All three characters in After Miss Julie, Patrick Marberís re-creation of Strindbergís Miss Julie, set in the kitchen of a 1945 country estate outside London, are devoid of likability, depth, and credibility. In fact, Miss Julie (Sienna Miller), John (Jonny Lee Miller), and Christine (Marin Ireland) are so shallow and edgy that Broadway time moves slowly, at a crawl, as the audience witnesses characters in erotically charged scenes with no apparent erotic charge, none. They seem to be showcasing themselves, in big screen fashion, and thatís why Iím no fan of Hollywood stars usurping lead roles over lesser know, but theatrically ripe actors. Mr. Marberís play was unfortunately miscast, with Ms. Miller a movie star, Mr. Miller (not related) a movie and television star, but with theatrical credits, as well, and Ms. Ireland more firmly rooted in live theatre.
Mark Brokaw, Director, goes for visual implication. Miss Julie, daughter of the estateís owner, is poised, glaring across the estateís wide kitchen at her fatherís valet, John, with his fiancťe, Christine, the estateís cook, glaring back. Swing music plays through the window of Allen Moyerís fascinating set, as party guests celebrate the election victory of Britainís Labour Party over Churchillís Conservatives. Christine is taut, high-collared, and church-going, faithful and devoted to John, as she patiently waits for her wedding day. John grew up on the estate, in the servant class, and watched Miss Julie from behind the bushes. So, tonight, when Miss Julie glides in, demanding that John dance with her upstairs, he eagerly obliges, leaving Christine holding pots and towels. When Miss Julie languidly extends her leg for John to kiss her foot, John grabs it lustily, but thereís little eye contact, no smoke in the air, beyond the requisite cigarettes, even before or after the bedroom.
Lust turns to violence, and weapons replace pots, as Julie and John collide physically, psychically, and emotionally. The final, and endlessly annoying struggle is worthy of a close-up, Hollywood camera, not a live, breathing audience. If only this hysteria had been realistically gripping. When Christine returns to bring John to Church, Ms. Ireland looks frumpy and frigid, never personifying the moment. Yet, there were other moments worth mentioning, like Mr. Millerís posture shifts, when he answered the estate ownerís calls on the kitchen phone and prepared a silver coffee tray and polished shoes. Ms. Ireland infused affect and poignancy to her moment of suffering, at her fiancťís willing seduction by the self-serving, sadistic Miss Julie. And, Ms. Millerís best moment was her first, that slithering walk and self-assured sexuality, in Michael Krassí flowered, 40ís swing dress.
This play deserves another chance, on a smaller stage, with new direction and casting. Meanwhile, Iíd like to see Strindbergís original oeuvre set in 1874 on a country estate in Sweden. The original Jean, Miss Julie, and Christine sound far more engaging and embroiled.
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