Three’s a company, Miss Julie sets bar high
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On Sept. 15, the audience remained captivated during the opening night of “Miss Julie.” The enigmatic scene of the play, presented by Wellfleet’s Harbor Stage Company, set the tone for the rest of the performance with wordless emotion and a haunting score. Written by Swedish playwright August Strindberg, the show explores the thrill, tension, and fear of romance as an intimate relationship develops between a daughter of a wealthy aristocrat and a hired hand.
With only three actors present in the entire cast, Brenda Withers, Jonathan Fielding and Stacy Fischer, this unique aspect of the play serves as an essential and ingenious technique as it allows viewers to focus their attention on the morals of this performance as all characters struggle for privilege within their variant societal roles. Withers, Fielding and Fischer, have been the co-founders of Harbor Stage Company for the last five years, putting in endless hours and effort into their passion. In an interview with The Journal, Wither’s described Miss Julie as “intense,” because of how “the stakes are very high throughout” and how “it always feels like life or death.” Fischer said she wants everyone who sees the show to have no single take away emotion, she just wants the audience “to feel” something upon leaving the theater. Withers said that she hopes for viewers to “examine their privilege” after watching the characters evaluate their morals of class in their society.
The play opens on a dark stage with eerie, celebratory music playing in the background. The audience first sees Miss Julie, played by Withers, and Jon, played by Fielding, thinking about each other from afar as they stand on opposite sides of the stage. The scene changes and stays set in a kitchen with only a wooden table, four chairs and stone walls for the duration of the play. As the story starts to unfold, the audience sees that there is a secretive and intimate relationship between the two hired hands of Miss Julie: a cook named Christine, played by Fischer and the character Jon. Fischer and Fielding exhibit excellent emotion for one another when showing the type of love between these two characters by the flirty gestures of Christine sitting on Jon’s lap and Jon holding her as if they were both envisioning themselves as a married couple. Wither’s makes a comical entrance as Miss Julie, wearing an elegant black gown and a men’s bowler hat. She stumbles into her home giddy and intoxicated from a night of celebration during a Midsummer’s Eve barn party across the way. Miss Julie’s once fun and flirty nature fools the audience as they later see how manipulative, reckless, and spoiled she acts towards Jon and Christine. One night changes everything as soon as Miss Julie and Jon become drunkenly involved with one another and realize that things go too far once they interact intimately.
Directed and adapted by Robert Kropf, and in partnership with the actors, the Harbor Stage Company conveyed a phenomenal performance of Miss Julie. Through the collaborative efforts of the company, the raw talent and emotion portrayed by the actors had spectators on the edge of their seats all the way to the last scene. The play ends on a mysterious note when Miss Julie leaves the stage with a knife in her hand and Jon covers his ears to the summoning sound of a bell ring, leaving the audience to decide the fate of the pair.
A fantastic start to the performance season here at Suffolk, Miss Julie is a definite must-see. Miss Julie will be showing in the Modern Theater September 15th-25th.