Heads Up: Mademoiselle Julie

Julie and Juliette: Miss becomes Mademoiselle
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The Independent Culture

What are we talking about? A new, French translation of Swedish writer August Stringberg's classic 1888 play, Miss Julie, at the Barbican. Don't worry – it comes with surtitles.

Elevator pitch Juliette plays Julie … en français, naturellement.

Prime movers Produced by the prestigious Festival d'Avignon. The text has been translated to the French by Terje Sinding, but the "re-imagining" of the play, into a contemporary setting, is credited to director Frédéric Fisbach (big in France, where he also directs film and opera).

The stars Juliette Binoche, the delectable French actress who won the hearts of Hollywood with star turns in Chocolat and The English Patient, as well as retaining high art-house credentials thanks to films such as Three Colours Blue and Caché. She's joined by French actors Nicolas Bouchaud and Bé*édicte Cerutti.

The early buzz On its 2011 premiere, Belgian newspaper Le Soir wrote: "Frédéric Fisbach's production is a real success, thanks to the grace of its main actress, the sharp vision of its director, and the perfect alchemy between Binoche and her two partners." Website The Arts Desk wrote: "Unlike Strindberg's rather bitter 1888 original, this one asks a much more up-to-date question: can love offer the possibility of radical change? … Fisbach will bring together a chorus before whom the intimate drama and ultimate tragedy of the three main protagonists is played out. So no minimalism there."

Insider knowledge It's got fashion credentials too: Binoche and Bouchard's costumes are designed by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, no less. Fancy.

It's great that… Binoche is returning to the stage. (She was last seen in a dance-theatre piece, In-I, at the National in 2008.) From a theatrical family – her father a director, her mother a stage actress – she trained at a Parisian drama school and looked set for a career treading the boards.

It's a shame that… OK, so we know it's part of the multicultural Olympic celebrations and it's intellectually enriching to see productions in another language and, of course, it sounds like a very interesting interpretation but… it is nearly two hours of French. Without an interval.

Hit potential See above – although Binoche will no doubt have real pulling power.

The details Mademoiselle Julie is at the Barbican, London EC2 (barbican.org.uk), 20 to 29 September.