A three-hander (not including the cameo appearance by Helen George’s dog, Charlie!) which takes a myriad of twists, turns and follows an almost Shakespearean style of psychological torment.
Patrick Marber’s play is set in 1945 in an English Country House, the set of which rivalled downstairs at Downton Abbey! The play is inspired by Strindberg’s Miss Julie. Helen George plays Miss Julie, the only upstairs character we are introduced to in person, while Richard Flood plays John, her father’s Chauffeur and Amy Cudden plays Christine, the cook. John and Christine were engaged to be married before the war, although Christine has no ring. Miss Julie, meanwhile declares that she had a ring, but we have already learned that she was jilted by her fiancé after he had objected to her display of sadomasochism. This theme runs throughout the play, subtly at times, but it leads to revelations about Miss Julie’s past which explain why she’s on the verge if not in the throes of a nervous breakdown.
It’s essentially a tragic love triangle, which had to be cast perfectly to have the right impact. The piece certainly packed a punch and even had a degree of wow factor, what I enjoyed most was my inability to predict what was going to happen next. I felt that the volatility of the characters was matched by an equally volatile plot. Amy Cudden played the slightly downtrodden cook brilliantly, she was a great contrast to the glamour that Helen George brought to the table as Miss Julie. George alone gave a five-star performance, what comes across is that she has put her heart and soul into that part and she has more than proved that stage acting is as much a forte for her as on-screen. It was beautiful to watch Miss Julie and John dancing, as this was also an apt nod towards her appearance in Strictly Come Dancing last year. Richard Flood played John, the Chauffeur and matched George with an incredible ability to portray a character slowly unravelling while trying and failing to pull himself back together. There was chemistry between all three characters and the obvious change in Miss Julie’s character between her interactions with John and then with Christine were notable, too.
I highly recommend you see this piece which is currently on at Malvern Theatres until Saturday 11th June and then continues with its UK tour. You can book tickets here to see it in Malvern: http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/
Other tour dates and venue are: