By August Strindberg
Royal Exchange Theatre, 16 April 2012
It is a masterly play and the marvellous Maxine Peake is its equal.
What’s copacetic about it is that nothing happens yet everything changes. Jean (Joe Armstrong) remains a servant while Miss Julie (Maxine Peake) will likely flit from day to day, just as before. She doesn’t have the courage to carry out that one resolute act, whatever it may be.
But – and this is what makes the play great – the clockwork machinery that operates these creatures, their motivations and dreams, has been exposed, along with the power relations that constitute their world. They oppress each other, that is the truth of it: the mistress lords it over the servant, the man over the woman. There is arrogance, agony and abjection on both sides.
It’s a fine production of an incredibly intense play – just the one act, the tension building as the whole landscape of this domestic world becomes illuminated – and Maxine Peake’s performance is simply stunning. It is a naturalistic tragedy indeed.
Miss Julie is at the Royal Exchange Theatre until 12 May, further details can be found here.