Miss Julie in the Ex
"My souls," said August Strindberg, referring to his characters in the preface to 1888's Miss Julie, "are conglomerates of past and present cultural phases, bits from books and newspapers, scraps of humanity, pieces torn from fine clothes and become rags, patched together as is the human soul."Working with what vague theatrical advice the twisted Swedish Victorian playwright had to offer, the impressive vision for the production in the Loeb Experimental Theater's black box stage by director Austin Guest '04 ought to be commended. But effort isn't everything, and this mostly freshman production falls flat due to excess and suffers from the problems Strindberg hoped his warning could prevent.The plot holds few surprises. Highborn Miss Julie (Emily Galvin '04), the daughter of a count, seduces Jean, the count's valet, (Geordie Broadwater '04) on Midsummer Eve, behind the back of Kristine (Kayla Rosen '04), the count's cook and Jean's unofficial fiancee. Problems of class and passion, as well as seduction and betrayal culminate in the second act. Resolution can only come by death or flight, and Miss Julie (and in turn Miss Julie) only permits the former.Guest's actors perform odd, dream like sequences and voracious displays of onstage sexual passion. The orchestration of these actions, while graceful, appears forced and destroys the play's intensity, turning the dramatic flow from performance to performance art and back again. After an argument about the impracticality of love without money, indie rock seems somewhat inappropriate especially in a balletic sequence.The theatricality of the play zooms forward in Act II, after the initial seduction and Jean's growing conflict between his duty to Kristine and the count and his passion for Miss Julie. Broadwater's delivery becomes somewhat staticin times of intense emotion, he is only able to yell and dislodge a cutting board from the table.Galvin's performance as whiny, spoiled and enthralling 17 year-old becomes stereotypical by the second act. The audience knows she is torn by the forces of appearance and desire, and Galvin makes certain that this dilemma is more than clear. Rosen's Kristine assumes the submissive role all too well. These characters are more caricatures than the souls Strindberg so desired. The play becomes increasingly farcical as it comes to its close--avoiding laughter when Jean severs the head of Miss Julie's dear parrot is nearly impossible. Kristine's manic obsession with cleanliness and church seems entirely removed from the play's intensity, embellishing her performance with unintended comic relief.But to its credit, though Strindberg's fervor transcends the actor's capabilities at the moment, the focus and preparation by cast and crew for this production are clearly evident and ought be commended. Though Strindberg preferred as realistic a set as possible, as he instructed in the preface to the play, Emily Carmichael's '04 nearly Spartan orange and blue design has a calming undertone for the drama onstage. The clever matching of colors mirror the emotions and intensities of the actors, visually manifesting shifts in emotion and mood. This careful attention to detail is just one of the qualities that earmark Guest as an ambitious and innovative student director, and the cast's intelligent--if flawedexecution bode well for their development as actors and artists.