Updated: Aug 3, 2021
August Strindberg, adap Amy Ng
February 20 – 13 March, 2020; 75min (no interval)
This Dadiow Lin-directed adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, part of the Storyhouse Originals series, is set in Hong Kong in the aftermath of WWII.
British rule has reasserted itself following the humiliating occupation by the Japanese. In this context, Miss Julie is the daughter of the island’s British Governor.
It is the lunar New Year and celebrations are taking place. In the kitchen of the Governor’s mansion, Miss Julie (Sophie Robinson) and Chinese chauffeur, John (Camille Mallet de Chauny) act out an intense, sexually-charged power play. Chinese servant Christine (Emma Lau), engaged to John, is the still, calm centre and moral compass around which the action of the two protagonists takes place. Themes of colonial dominance, national independence, interracial marriage and the personal freedom to choose and follow your own destiny are all explored.
Set design by Adam Wiltshire, for the theatre’s thrust stage, creates an environment in which the initial domesticity created by Christine’s preparation of a special New Year meal for herself and John is turned into a sexual battleground. Predictably, this does not end well.
The action of the play is generally well paced, initially establishing through Christine a quiet, ordered domestic routine which is disrupted first by the arrival of John and then by Miss Julie, who arrives on stage flushed from her encounter with a celebrating crowd, offstage.
The relationship between Miss Julie and John develops from mistress and servant to near-equals, driven by sexual desire and the need for freedom from their personal "prisons".
Despite an initial tendency to mumble, all cast members put in a strong performance. Particularly impressive was the choreography from movement director Yukiko Masui, for what is a very physical performance.
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