Updated: Aug 3, 2021
August Strindberg, adap Amy Ng
Storyhouse Chester/New Earth Theatre
Live streaming April 9-17, 2021; run time 75min
Storyhouse artistic director Alex Clifton has teamed up with New Earth Theatre director Kumiko Mendl to produce this reimagining of Strindberg’s drama, first seen on stage in early 2020
Set in immediate post-war 1940s Hong Kong, Miss Julie (Sophie Robinson) is the daughter of the island’s British Governor. It is the lunar New Year and noisy crowds are celebrating offstage.
In the kitchen of the Governor’s residence, maid Christine (Jennifer Leong) is waiting for her fiancee, the chauffeur, John (Leo Wan). Both servants are Chinese.
John arrives, followed by Miss Julie – flushed with the excitement of participating in the predominantly Chinese celebrations. Christine is quickly dismissed to deal with a sick dog, leaving Julie free to initiate a sexual power-play with John. With a nod to Covid, plague is rampant, making intimate contact an even greater risk, and the relationship that develops moves from mistress and servant to almost-equals then predictably ends badly.
This is a powerful drama, in which themes of personal, political and cultural freedoms are explored, particularly relevant to the current situation in Hong Kong. Strong performances, particularly from the two protagonists, creates a dramatic tension which is enhanced by Alan Wiltshire’s set design. Also, oddly enough, by the necessary intimacy of the Covid-secure online screening format.
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