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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Miss Julie: And What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Miss Julie: And What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Midsummer’s night revelry teeters dangerously on the edge of oblivion for the characters of the BCA’s new production, Miss Julie. Put on by the up and coming Gurnet Theater Company and directed by the talented Mr. Brian Fahey, Miss Julie explores the limbic plateau between class and gender; naiveté and corruption; love and anguish. As dawn swiftly emerges the players discover that social constructs are limitless and once one is crossed another looms ahead. The question is raised whether one is brave enough to forget oneself, one’s place, or whether in the end it is best to stick with what one knows. In Miss Julie, what begins as an illicit tryst between a noble women and a servant ends with despair with neither the victor.

The stage lights are low on the simple setting of a servant’s kitchen. Kristen (Michelle M.K. Hatfield) is busy over the stove concocting an abortive for Miss Julie’s (the counts daughter) dog who was unwise enough to get knocked up by the stable boys pup. Enter Jean (Hugh Lawton), fresh from the Midsummer night’s revel with the other servants. Despite his low status as the count’s butler he has been across Europe, is well read, and has followed closely on the heels of European aristocracy. Though he was raised in a shack, Jean has a penchant for the finer things in life. This is not lost on his adoring Kristen, the bible thumping, salt of the earth girl proud to give him a piece of liver shaved off from the counts veal. As he dines and she slaves over the stove the celebration ensues, among the partygoers there is Miss Julie (Gillian Mackay-Smith), slumming for the evening.

At once the audience is made aware of Jean’s awe and contempt for Miss Julie as he simultaneously compliments and insults her to Kristen while relaying a tale of Miss Julie’s latest failed love affair. In bursts the notorius Julie to lure him away to dance with her- again he is flattered and slyly contemptuous but complies to the noble women’s wishes. As Kristen sleeps, the night enfolds in Jean and Julie’s strange flirtation, where their roles are swapped- he is the master and Julie, his slave. It does not begin like this, however, Jean had at one point passionately kissed Miss Julie’s shoe. It is once they enter the off stage bedroom and return that they are no longer in their preset roles as Countess and servant, they are now simply man and woman- and Julie unwillingly acquiesces to her fate.

Perhaps the most interesting subplot to Miss Julie is the notion that despite Julie’s high birth, she has less than Jean. She has no money, it can only belong to her father or her husband. Whatever mobility she has is through marriage, which to her is a trap. She realizes that running away with Jean is no different than marriage to any man- she will always lose herself. Likewise, Jean realizes he can never leave his position in life. He will always be a slave to money. Though he dreams of one day buying a Countship, he knows that he is too much of a coward to leave his life behind. The tragedy lies in the fact that neither can ever truly believe in a life without titles- the realization of this culminating in the plays disturbing ending.

The simplistic scenery is a sharp contrast to the complexity of plot and characters- the nuances of which are delivered brilliantly by the players. Likewise, the director’s hand (Brian Fahey) in this performance is indelibly imprinted. From the tastefully chosen melancholic score to the lights (at times soft and at some poignant moments flashed like beacons), Fahey has constructed a believable yet dreamlike set, complimenting the plays naturalistic theme with its surreal, almost fairytailish subplot. Kudos to the Gurnet Theater Company for their first Boston performance- though you began with grass roots the sky is the limit and we look forward to seeing what’s to come.

Miss Julie runs at the BCA Plaza Theater until May 20 and during Memorial Day weekend in Duxbury.For more info visit www.gurnettheatre.com