In this charged evening, Kirby’s Julie and Abrefa’s Jean push and pull with both passion and disdain. Kirby’s performance isn’t so far removed from her Princess Margaret, a privileged woman whose family history is riddled with sorrow and who suffers from a sense of restlessness. Yet she offers up a childish helplessness that is underpinned by a deep traumatic experience relating to her mother’s death. Abrefa is striking as Jean, naive yet endearing, with a hint of sharp opportunism to him.
But despite the heated exchange, the overall atmosphere is slightly dulled. Julie’s existentialism is both ridiculed and taken seriously, but in a modern context, she becomes a hard character to empathise with. And in Steinham’s adaptation, it remains unclear why her relationship with John and betrayal of Kristina leads, on this particular evening, to her downfall. It seems that this could be any other party experience Kirby’s Julie might have.
Yet with strong performances and glossy design, it’s hard not to enjoy this take on Strindberg’s classic. Perhaps what’s best in Steinham’s update is how class distinctions are dealt with in a modern day context. Julie’s relationship with Kristina is amicable and intimate, until Teixeira’s Kristina gives an impassioned speech damning Julie not for her betrayal, but for confirming that their relationship is rooted in servitude. Teixeira dazzles in what is the highlight and most memorable part of the evening.
|What||Julie, National Theatre review|
|Where||National Theatre, South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
31 May 18 – 08 Sep 18, 19:30 - 21:30 (Saturday matinée: 14:30)
|Price||£15 - £50|
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|