Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

27/08/2013 - 07/09/2013

Production Details

A psychological thriller of three deeply flawed characters enmeshed in a web of conflicts shifting the upper hand from one to the other, in a high-voltage battle of the sex and class. August Strindberg, by way of British playwright Patrick Marber (Closer), is brought to Auckland’s Basement Theatre from August 27th, as After Miss Julie makes its New Zealand premier.

The Telegraph

Originally conceived in 1888 by Swedish playwright August Strindberg, Miss Julie’s themes of class, love, lust, the battle of the sexes and the interaction among them, all resonate with British playwright Patrick Marber – the creator of modern classic Closer (which itself spawned the acclaimed movie of the same name, starring Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Jude Law and Natalie Portman).

Marber’s quintessential Englishness however re-imagined the work in a Country House in England instead of an estate in Sweden; it’s date – the historic 1945 landslide victory of the working class Labour Party over the Churchill led Conservative Party. Serving as a symbolically loaded substitute for the original work’s eve of Midsummer, Marber manages to strip the Strindberg’s text from much of its long monologues and instead focuses on its immediate story; an impulsive decision between two people that has the worst possible consequences for all involved.

After Miss Julie debuted on BBC Two in 1995 as part of its Performance season, starring Kathy Burke, Phil Daniels and Geraldine Somerville. Eight years later it made its stage premiere at the Donmar Warehouse, garnering rave reviews from The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Veteran actor and director Cameron Rhodes leads this premiere season, with Erroll Shand (Harry, Underbelly) taking to the stage as John, the swaggering chauffeur of a country estate.

Shand is joined by the incredible Jodie Hillock (Tribes, Educating Rita) as Miss Julie, the ruthless, self-destructive daughter of the house who decides to command John’s attentions. Dena Kennedy (The Pride, Yours Truly) perfectly completes the line-up as John’s prudent, not-quite-fiancée, Christine. These deeply flawed characters are as fascinating today as they were when Strindberg first created them.

– The Guardian

August 27th – September 7th
The Basement Theatre Studio
Tickets $22-$28 (booking fees may apply)


Class warfare – in the kitchen

Review by Janet McAllister 31st Aug 2013

With its Swedish mix of sex, class and mind games, August Strindberg’s naturalist (almost real-time) drama Miss Julie has sticking power, having inspired adaptations for 125 years. Patrick Marber’s After Miss Julie transports the action to a British country house in 1945. This production, with its varied tempo and sharp dialogue, is entertaining and good value, even if it doesn’t quite resonate as a refreshed classic sometimes can.

Foreshadowing topsy-turvy class disruption, The Basement’s upstairs studio is set as a downstairs kitchen. Chauffeur John (Erroll Shand) is lovingly looked after by his sort-of fiancée, serene cook Christine (Dena Kennedy), but then the house’s “crazy” haughty young mistress in a red dress, Miss Julie (Jodie Hillock), bursts in like a firecracker on this cosy domesticity, practically demanding a gender-reversed droit de seigneur. She’s after Christine’s cigarettes (say, do they stand for something?). [More]


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Up close and extremely personal

Review by Simon Wilson 28th Aug 2013

Up close in the small, wonderful space of the upstairs Basement Studio, After Miss Julie is a power-play between three people that comes drenched in equal measure in political fury and emotional trauma. A very good night in the theatre.

August Strindberg’s play Miss Julie was written at the turn of the 20th century and has always been wildly transgressive. It’s a story of upstairs-downstairs desire that insults social mores both with its open sexuality and its trenchant criticism of the inhibitions of class. [More]


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A touch of class

Review by Sharu Delilkan 28th Aug 2013

Coming to see Patrick Marber’s play After Miss Julie was an experience in itself. Right from the get-go it was obvious that the producers of the show had taken a lot of care to ensure that the audience were going to be taken care of. I say this because it is seldom that you get someone standing at the bottom of the stairs leading to The Basement’s Studio ushering you with a torchlight – well done co-producers Kristin Burns and Jodie Hillock for the great finishing touches. And when we walked into the space, the way it was configured was nothing short of a revelation. To say it was in a round would be wrong – so it was decided after post-show discussions that the seating was on the periphery. Whatever you call it, The Basement’s Studio has never looked so big and inviting! 

The three actors, Jodie Hillock (Miss Julie), Dena Kennedy (Christine) and Erroll Shand (John) utilised the space to its fullest. And being in the front row gave us even more of a dramatic view, especially when the actors were literally performing at our feet. [More


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Post-war passions superbly acted

Review by Johnny Givins 28th Aug 2013

The Basement Theatre in Auckland is on a roll! After Miss Julie takes a strong full blooded play with a cast to fit, sets it upstairs in the studio and releases a three sided battle of sex, class and repression.  The explosions are wonderful and the passions white hot. 

Swedish playwright August Strindberg wrote the original Miss Julie in 1888.  About human desire, sex between the classes, the danger of breaking boundaries and impulsive behaviour, it was avant-garde and outrageous to the Scandinavian moral climate of class, church and repressed sexuality. Despite becoming a smash hit around Europe, it was many years before Miss Julie played in Strindberg’s homeland. 

British playwright Patrick Marber takes the original and places it in a 1945 Country House in England on the night of political change.  It’s the night of the landslide election which saw Winston Churchill and the Conservatives tossed out of office and Clement Attlee and the Labour Party move in.  The working classes are cheering new opportunities in a post war world. 

It is a night of triumph for those ‘downstairs’. Time for a change indeed!  Perhaps this sense of change is what underpins the impulsive actions of these characters.  But as we know from recent history, however the political climate may change, some things just stay the same. 

You may know Marber as the writer of Closer, the international classic hit for four actors.  After Miss Julie has the same scintillating dialogue, impulsive behaviour and aggression, as well as the sexual subtext.  

In the small space of The Basement Studio an elemental setting of the grand country house kitchen is created by Andrew Potvin. There is a ‘workshop’ feel to the setting, without the realistic grand design and historically accurate elements we can get in the larger theatre productions and in the Downton Abbey sort of TV productions – but it works in this superbly acted show. 

Cameron Rhodes directs astutely, accurately and above all realistically as the three actors are consumed in impulsive actions that lead to tragic consequences.  He finds the heart of the original story with all its mercurial changes.

Miss Julie is fulfilled by the cat-like Jodie Hillock (Tribes, Educating Rita).  She is a high class, ruthless and self-destructive spoilt bitch.  The daughter of the household, she commands the attentions of her chauffeur, John, with regal authority but screams, squirms and hides like a scalded cat when it all gets too hot in the kitchen. 

The development of the doomed relationship between the lady and the chauffeur is chilling, enticing, and full of fire.  Her passions simmer and flare, and just as suddenly cool with icy, disconcerting changes.

The hunky working class chauffeur John is realised by Erroll Shand.  You may know him for his impressive performances in Harry and Underbelly on the TV.  The intimate space works well for the subtle multilevel of this obedient servant and sexy man with repressed passions.  I expect as the season progresses he will find even more emotional triumph and despair.  He is totally believable with his English country accent, obsequiousness and masculine sexuality. 

The trio is completed with Christine, the cook and chauffeurs’ not-quite fiancé.  Dena Kennedy has captured the solid ‘feet on the ground’ realism of the girl who knows her place, but also has the spirit of the serving class to make do, no matter what happens. 

After Miss Julie is about 80 minutes of passionate and well-made theatre.  The revelations are fascinating and like watching a train crash you can’t take your eyes of it! Great to witness.


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