Theatre: Miss Julie; The Gate, London
Thursday 18 April 1996
I have no problem with non-naturalistic treatments of this great work. Directors from Steven Berkoff to Ingmar Bergman have demonstrated the benefits of heightening the associative, dream-like elements in this sex duel between a male servant who aspires to rise from the mud and an aristocratic bitch with vertiginous desires to topple fatally in it.The problem with Nick Philippou's production (which uses a translation by Gregory Motton) lies not so much in the conception as in the ineptlyover-the-top execution. From the moment he bursts into Angela Davies's stainless steel, suffocating trap of a kitchen, Peter Lindford's shiftily twitching Jean seems more like someone on trial release from a padded cell than a believable mix of ruthless calculation and slave mentality. First seen auto-erotically rubbing her crotch against the door jamb, Kate Fenwick's Miss Julie never possesses the poky space as if she felt she had an aristocrat's right to it. That sense of being glacially on heat, that frisson-inducing combination of insolence and masochism which you get from the best exponents of the role are barely registered here in a performance which resorts to crude effects (as when she maniacally stuffs her face with bottled fruit).
Though this pair wind up having stylised, explosive sex in the smeared polythene side-booth, there has been next to no erotic tension beforehand and a Miss Julie without erotic tension is like The Sound of Music without nuns. The performances seem bafflingly unconnected, each marooned in its own alienating weirdness. Indeed, there are moments when you feel you could be watching contestants on Whose Line Is It Anyway? doing a parody of the play. One sequence works brilliantly. Whetting his razor on a strop held between his teeth as the stage directions stipulate, a madly smiling- eyed Lindford seems to egg Miss Julie on with a sort of masturbatory murderousness as she tries with a desperate, progressively less convinced eagerness, to persuade Kristin that the three of them could escape and set up a hotel together. Given what we see of the trio in this particular staging, you sense that any such establishment would beat the Bates Motel in the pas vaut le detour stakes.
To 11 May (0171-229 0706)
Broadcaster unveils Christmas scheduleTV
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 4 Halle Berry takes ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry to court for allegedly trying to make daughter look less African-American
- 5 Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict