WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE: Lyttelton, National Theatre
WHEN: 1/6, press night 7/6, runs to 8/9/18
RUN TIME: 90 minutes without interval
Hopes are high for this August Strindberg adaptation not least because star Vanessa Kirby won a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA last month for her turn as Princess Margaret in Netflix’s much-admired The Crown.
- Read on for reasons including sex on a ladder and an unfortunate end for a bird
The best thing about this rather underpowered production directed by Carrie Cracknell (we preferred her Deep Blue Sea starring Helen McCrory at the National in 2016) is the wordless first 10 minutes where the thumping beats and cavorting of a solstice birthday party in a north London flat is impressively recreated.
10 minutes later and the production is called to a temporary halt as there appears to be a problem with the banging tunes and we notice that in the audience in the row in front of us is Florence (And The Machine) Welch.
The action soon restarts and the story is of our titular heroine in full-on party mode complete with smudged make-up and hitting the drugs hard that will not disappoint fans of Kirby’s in The Crown.
The story, such as it is, is of Julie’s birthday, her fondness for her driver (an athletic performance by Eric Kofi Abrefa) and his relationship with our heroine’s maid (Thalissa Teixiera doing her best with an underwriten part).
Sex on a ladder follows, as does an unfortunate end for a bird that prompted the strongest audience reaction of the night and rather betrayed how curiously uninvolving the main action of the evening was.
Cracknell is an imaginative director and we loved her Medea at the National starring McCrory especially for its use of music and it is that element, once again, which provides an authenticity which is very rare in theatre.
We’ve praised Kirby on this site for stellar performances in Uncle Vanya at the Almeida and the unforgettable Young Vic production of A Streetcar Named Desire but we didn’t feel the same about this character who is very much the motor of this piece.