B+

Hoo-rah!

  • A fascinating and fresh take on one of my favorite plays.
  • Loved the setting: South Africa, John (Jean in the original) as a slave of what was formerly his family’s land, Julie’s family as the new owner.
  • The music (more like ‘soundscape’) done by two guys with a computer, saxophone, and midi-keyboard, could not have been more perfect.
  • Having Christine be the mother to John instead of his fiancee worked surprisingly well. Her role in the story has always been that of the conscience, saying ‘do what a good Christian would,’ so it still felt like a similar character. That being said, in this version, Jean isn’t cheating on Christine by sleeping with Mies Julie so the ‘deed’ isn’t quite as naughty… but still, their relationship in the original always felt like something done for convenience rather than true affection. (I liked the choice)
  • Glad that we still never see The Count. He’s more menacing as a presence than he could ever be in the flesh. Nice touch at the end with John wearing The Count’s boots.
  • What can I say, in this day and age, it feels right to have all the sex stuff happen onstage instead of off.
  • Loved the brooding ancestor element… gave the entire play a well-fit unsettling undertone. Fascinating choice to have Julie long to leave and John long to stay (but be his own master).

Blech…

  • On a visceral level, I didn’t like Julie telling the dream of starting a hotel (John has that speech in the original). Here, Julie sounds like it’s something she’s coming up with off the top of her head, whereas in the original, John says it like it’s something he’s been dreaming of and planning for years. It’s much more powerful as a deep-seated longing. Plus, in this version we deny Julie the lovely opportunity to mock and insult John’s dream later in her super long monologue (completely absent here).  I understand it makes sense for the characters– Julie wants to get away, while John wants to stay, but still… blech.
  • Speaking of that absent super-long hilarious monologue, this interpretation of the play lacked humor, which to me is key in original to release the overflowing levels of tension that build up.
  • Julie and John were mean to each other, and manipulative, but I never felt they were  actually attracted to each other, therefore I never felt like they were completely out of control. I don’t know if that’s a fault of the directing, the writing, or the acting, but it took some of the punch out. The original is just such a perfect take on ‘man versus woman’ with each using every natural, archetypal weapon at their disposal, I’m not sure any new take on the show could ever hit me quite like that did my first time.