Classic Stage presents this fierce adaptation of Strindberg’s "Miss Julie," which resets the classic play to a farmhouse in the Karoo of South Africa on the evening of the annual Freedom Day celebration. More…
When the white Afrikaans landowner’s daughter, Julie, falls for her father’s charismatic Xhosa farm laborer, John, their erotic evening together erupts into a brutal battle fueled by gender, race, power, and ancestral domain.
"Mies Julie" will be performed in repertory with Strindberg's "The Dance of Death."
"Ali’s electrifying staging replaces Strindberg’s celebration of Midsummer’s Eve with the 'restitutions of body and soul' churned up by the Xhosa Freedom Day celebration...Issues of race, gender, power, privilege, and hope cascade across David L. Arsenault’s expansive set and are ultimately consummated on the kitchen farm table set center stage...A play to see: its themes counterpoint the struggles for true freedom that continue to beg for resolution." Full Review
“Farber, a celebrated South African playwright and director, translocates the play from 19th century Sweden to South Africa in 2012...This new setting inserts a jolting socio-political milieu into a familiar story, upping the stakes for a modern audience while maintaining the naturalistic edge that makes ‘Miss Julie’ a classic...Ali shapes a highly legible and truthful production with stunning performances...This one is worth seeing.” Full Review
"Searingly and forcefully acted by her quartet of fearless actors, particularly her lustful pair of young star-crossed lovers. Although the play runs only 75-minutes, I was on the edge of my seat throughout was left breathless by the play’s combustible conclusion." Full Review
"I did not catch 'Mies Julie' when it played at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn in 2012, which is probably just as well: the passions it traffics in are so raw, so violent, that they would be hard to take twice. In the meantime, it should at least be seen once." Full Review
"Benefits from a director with a vivid, gripping vision and a cast willing to burrow deep into dark psychological corners; together, they make a compelling case for plays that often come across as creaky fulminations by a great writer...If Ali's taut direction never slackens across the seventy-five-minute running time, her production also benefits from the steamy pairing of Kibler and James Udom...The best argument in some time for the continuing relevance of his plays." Full Review
"Farber has found a smart way to spin on 'Miss Julie'...Making the bold transition, she is able not only to stress the sexual politics of the explosive play but introduce a more profound political perspective...Director Ali’s actors are superb...When a playwright decides to fiddle with well-loved plays, it’s often a problem, but here’s a rare example of a truly authoritative spin." Full Review
“Farber’s reworking of Strindberg’s ‘Miss Julie’ changes the setting and implications of the classic drama...Ali directs this piece with a knowing hand...There’s some fine—and sizzling--ensemble acting here...The production values underscore the play’s bleak atmosphere and mood...No question that ‘Mies Julie’ is meant for adult audiences. Farber’s reimagining of Strindberg’s 1888 drama about love—and social taboos--will raise the temperature of even the most seasoned theatergoer.” Full Review
"In this brilliant and disturbing reimaging of Strindberg’s play, Farber sets the action in 21st century South Africa...Here, the violent romance between Mies Julie, and John reflect the country’s ongoing issues of race and class...Visually arresting, the actors are each incredible looking, and their chemistry is explosive...That director Shariffa Ali achieves both the political and psychological realities with equal force, creates this most effecting production." Full Review
“A tense and sizzling production...The setting is moved to the Karoo of South Africa on the 18th Anniversary of Freedom Day...Passions and social politics meet nose to nose...Their rough, but consensual, sexual encounter, staged with striking realism by fight and intimacy directors Alicia Rodis and Claire Warden, carries the same symbolism that the source's author conveyed less graphically in the 19th Century, though with the added layer brought on by the pair's racial divide." Full Review
"Udon and Kibler make thrilling stage partners, pushing uncomfortable physical and emotional boundaries to their breaking points under Ali's bold direction. The tragic ending may be as preordained as that in 'The Dance of Death,' but rather than watching in woeful resignation, 'Mies Julie' makes you want to reach onto the stage (like the legendary Vinie Burrows in her ghostly cameo) and change the social architecture that's signed its characters' fates." Full Review
"South African playwright Yaël Farber cleverly uses the template of Strindberg’s 1888 play 'Miss Julie' to explore clashes of class, gender, race and ownership in her homeland...Ali's raw, in-the-round staging...is meant to jar. It leaves nothing to the imagination...Kibler isn't as strong as her costars—her accent is as fickle as her character's emotions—but Julie’s fate is still haunting, as is Farber's insight into what continues to ail their country." Full Review
“Broken dreams, unrequited love, sadness, and tragedy. Chevannes’ performance makes it all worthwhile. Yaël Farber’s adaptation of the classic August Strindberg 'Miss Julie' is both an insightful character portrayal and unrelenting opponent of social mores concomitant to apartheid. It requires a strong cast to sustain 70 minutes of stress and heartache." Full Review
"Farber uses Strindberg’s framework to elegantly probe the psychological wounds of post-apartheid South Africa, and the characters don’t pull any punches in their attempts to get under each others’ skin...Adaptation is a tricky art, and the script does occasionally slip into overly obvious statements of its themes. However, for the most part, 'Mies Julie' is able to evoke and heighten the spirit of the original into a forbidding, startling night of theater." Full Review
"It’s a wise move, slapping down this battleground, not in Sweden, but in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, 2012, on the evening of the annual Freedom Day Celebrations. It’s a solid and thoughtful parallel universe that gives rise to the wild and pained alliance in conflict that is at the core, although the added complexities in their passionate power struggle shoots 'Mies Julie' off in a number of different directions, not always hitting their mark." Full Review
"Regrettably, the intense performances of these actors (especially Udom) are marred by the occasional unintelligibility of their accents…'Mies Julie' evokes the sultry world of a Tennessee Williams play, with sweat, booze, boredom, and repression colliding in a cocktail of lust…Farber's 75-minute play…adds to Strindberg's focus on male-female power dynamics and class warfare, tensions tied to post-apartheid racial and historical land ownership issues." Full Review
"The toxic love that develops between Julie (Elise Kibler) and the black servant John is strangled almost from its inception by societal sins past. That perspective is heightened by the performance of Kibler, who looks defenselessly young and unformed...Julie’s passivity shifts the emphasis from the play’s title character to John and his mother, Christine. They are both excellent...The sense of a world in which everyone is terminally rootless comes across with haunting acuteness." Full Review
"The buildup to the play’s final shocking moments is an incredibly intense dance of death...Farber’s play is more about ideas than what takes place on that much-stronger-than-it-looks kitchen table...Ali is adept at handling this aspect of Farber’s script, taking full advantage of the scorched-earth naturalism...Ali struggles, though, with Farber’s spiritualism...Fortunately, the crew’s collective talents are put to much better use heightening Julie and John’s passionate exchanges." Full Review
“Farber’s version of ‘Mies Julie’ and McPherson’s take on ‘The Dance of Death,’ are running in rep...Farber’s ‘Mies Julie’ is less successful...Without ever being political 'Mies Julie' has become a rebellion of the present-day political situation in South Africa. Where before it was about class and the haves and have nots...Though this production says a lot and has masterful performances, it’s not what the original playwright had to say.” Full Review
"Directed by Shariffa Ali with stingingly harsh vigor and acted with like impact...While Ms. Ali’s staging is strong enough to give pleasure in its own right, I’m not sure why Classic Stage has opted to produce a modern commentary on a 19th-century classic that so few of its viewers will know save by reputation...The audience would have been better served had the producers stuck to Strindberg." Full Review
"Kibler and Udom’s piercing performances make 'Mies Julie' resonate, but director Shariffa Ali never quite drives the heady electricity and malicious, unresolvable hurt of the story home...The strength of this 'Mies Julie' lies in Kibler and Udom’s chemistry and in their ability to keep finding the contradictions in the characters. Strindberg’s plays were always more human and complex than his analyses of his own writing." Full Review
"In Farber’s adaptation of Strindberg’s work, the place and time of the drama has been transposed from 1880s Sweden to 2012 South Africa and its dynamic changed into a symbolic power struggle between white and black people within the nation’s post-apartheid society...Purists will not be pleased by Farber’s significant retooling of a classic, yet there’s no denying how effectively the director, Shariffa Ali, cranks up the psychosexual heat...It succeeds as a forceful drama in its own right." Full Review
"This play that once passionately and obsessively tested the social and sexual barriers between the haves and the have nots has remarkably never surrendered the impact of its psycho-sexual dilemma...Farber's text is excellent and eminently reflective of its characters...Neither Kibler's neurotically obsessed Julie or Udom's misguidedly adventurous Jean are able to counter the feeling that their nocturnal tryst is hardly more than a game turned deadly." Full Review
"'Mies Julie' makes a strong case for Strindberg’s enduring relevance — despite a tragically uneven production under Shariffa Ali’s direction...One shortcoming of Farber’s 75-minute, intermissionless staging is that doesn’t allow either the cast or theatergoers a break to absorb the shifting power dynamics between the central couple...But her approach breathes new life into a story whose conflicts and power dynamics can seem anachronistic and even dated." Full Review
See it if You are open to a play that is intense and explores racial divides in a sexual atmosphere
Don't see it if You are offended by displays of sexual content and interracial tensions
See it if Muscular resentful black servant seduced by bored white farm daughter. Violent sexuality, class conflict, & ancestors who haunt the land.
Don't see it if You don't want to be confronted by intensely sexual and violent scenes, and a hopeless no-win situation. Difficult accents.
See it if For serious, moving, disturbing emotionally challenging but creative well acted theater. Taking chances with the old to get to the new.
Don't see it if If your squeamish about real life on stage (sex and death are to be seen)
See it if Strindberg's play reset to 21st century post-apartheid South Africa with the lasting effects of the previous injustices. Landowner's*
Don't see it if don't want graphic sexual & violent scenes; accents that are very hard to understand**
See it if to see Strindberg's 19th C Swedish play on class & power reset in 21st C South Africa, where colonialism & race clash to an erotic crescendo
Don't see it if you're a Strindberg purist; you're embarrassed by frank & sometimes violent sexual situations; you're uncomfortable w/theatre-in-the-round.
See it if Farber's racial overlay on Strindberg's drama of class constraints makes for a combustible evening Ali's circular staging adds a caged heat
Don't see it if Kibler's Julie is a little to Lolita-esque for this impassioned production (she's got the privilege right) Udom & Chevannes are excellent
See it if you appreciate good acting & don't mind a version that changes the time & place significantly, with accents that are often incomprehensible.
Don't see it if you will be embarrassed by extremely explicit onstage sex .
See it if you want see an interesting adaptation of the original in a production that lacks the tension and psychological intensity of the original.
Don't see it if you expect new insights into power, dominance, and sexual attraction. The problem seems to be more the production than the play.
See it if you don’t shy away from difficult subject matter. The staging keeps you involved - you’re more witness than audience.
Don't see it if You shy away from intense sex scenes depicted realistically. Lots of difficult subject matter...
See it if you want to experience a top-notch contemporary adaptation that mirrors the intensity Strindberg's play must have been received with in 1888
Don't see it if you don't want your nerves punctured.
See it if you are ok with theatre being an uncomfortable experience. You enjoy the contrast of power between race and gender.
Don't see it if you want fluff. You are uncomfortable with sex and violence
See it if You want to see a show and acting presented from the absolute core of human emotion and instinct.
Don't see it if You have trouble keeping up with thick accents.
See it if You like an excellent adaptation that still maintains the quality of the original but through a new and refreshing lens.
Don't see it if You are not open to new interpretation of a classic, have difficulty with accents, are not open to fresh and new directors or actors.
See it if Two leads are super "In the Round" is my kind of show, Moving Sweden to Souh Africa post apartheid) is a super move. Lighting spectacular
Don't see it if Some bold sexual presentations. Accents take time to adjust to. Confused re: reason for no playbills yet stlll so much publicity printing.
See it if You enjoy drama that makes you think, makes you uncomfortable, challenges you, and is a masterful retelling of an already masterful play.
Don't see it if this is not a light airy play. But you should see it anyway.
See it if adaptation of Strindberg play reset into apartheid South Africa pushes against issues of race, class, gender, entitlement, love and hate.
Don't see it if this adaptation revolves around race, class and sex. there are disturbing scenes of sex and violence.
See it if You want to see a classic play wt new adaptation, extremely vulgar language at times makes you shake to your core, strong visual sex scenes
Don't see it if You are not into stories that deal with interracial relation, slavery, racism, class warfare. Also nudity or profanity troubles you.
See it if This, updated to post Apartheid S. Africa, works. The set up easily lends itself to the dynamic. Everything works, & it is riveting.
Don't see it if If u want your Miss Julie played as originally written, would dislike it updated or adapted to black/white, r sexually squeamish, stay away.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies