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After Miss Julie review at Young Vic London

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Natalie Dormer does a good line in doomed, haughty young women. She played Anne Boleyn in the lavish TV show The Tudors and here raises her game to an even more acute pitch of frayed sanity as the titular lead in Patrick Marber’s take on Strindberg’s 1888 classic.

She plays the doomed aristocrat almost like an actress herself, deploying a range of bodily gestures and voices as she pursues (and is pursued by) Kieran Bew’s chauffeur in the downstairs kitchen of the servants’ quarters, beautifully imagined in Patrick Burnier’s design.

Marber’s play is updated to the night of Labour’s 1945 election victory. And smirking and coquettish though she is, the fear of belonging to an outdated aristocratic species (even if her dad is a Labour Peer) pervades this multi-layered performance as the muffled sounds of the offstage election night party wafts around the heady, summer night. Dormer’s skill also lies in portraying a Julie who never seems at home in her own beautifully-shaped body. Bew weaves a richly textured mix of victim and swagger into his contribution to their cat and mouse game of passion and recrimination. But there is strain and hesitancy here too and he generates real sympathy around his ultimate failure to seize what he can in the supposedly bright new political future. Frame provides a neat foil, stoically accepting of his infidelity, she too accepts her place in what amounts to an impressive, absorbing, but also deeply unsettling evening of theatre.

Production Information

Young Vic, London, March 15-April 14

Author
Patrick Marber
Director
Natalie Abrahami
Producer
Young Vic
Cast
Natalie Dormer, Kieran Bew, Polly Frame
Running time
1hr 30mins
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