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Theatre Review: Miss Julie ***

Joy Watters reviews a new production of the classic tragedy.

The first production of spring affirms Perth Theatre’s pledge to foster emerging talent with young practitioners to the fore in the more intimate setting of the Joan Knight Studio. Young director Shilpa T-Hyland has been enabled to take the helm of Strindberg’s 1888 tragedy by the theatre’s Cross Trust emerging director award.

Miss Julie has been the subject of a host of adaptations, moving in time and place. Here it is Zinnie Harris’ 2006 version set in Highland Scotland during the 1920s. The script is punchy and contemporary; the conflict at the heart of the work is conveyed in short sharp phrases bolstered by volleys of swearing from the protagonists.

Set in the kitchen of the Laird’s castle, on Midsummer Eve, his daughter Miss Julie enters into a power play of class and gender with servant John.

Hiftu Quasem makes her professional stage debut in the challenging role of the mercurial Miss Julie, brought down from imperious mistress to tragic victim. It is the fragility of the character that Quasem emphasises rather than giving the fuller portrayal of a woman completely at odds with herself and the world.

Lorn Macdonald as John convincingly captures the many guises of the apparently loyal family retainer who is determined to upturn the social order. The shift from amiability to cruelty after he has slept with Julie is chilling.

Helen Mackay as Christine the cook and John’s fiancée gives a fine assured performance as a woman apparently satisfied with her place in the world.

Miss Julie runs at Perth until Saturday February 23 before touring to the Tron Theatre, Glasgow (February 27 to March 2) and The Studio, Edinburgh (March 6 to March 9).

Tags: theatre

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