Review “Mies Julie” (Victory Gardens): Miesed Connection

Friday, June 22, 2018 Permalink
Reviewed by Jay Worthington
Victory Gardens Theater concludes its 43rd season with Mies Julie.
On a remote farm in the South African desert, we meet John, a farm laborer, and Julie, the landowner’s daughter.  John and Julie grew up together under the tender care of John’s mother and Julie’s nanny, Christine.  The night we meet them is the celebration of Freedom Day, the annual celebration of the first post-Apartheid elections in 1994.  Julie and John have been hungry for each other their whole lives and tonight Julie is determined to do something about it.  The dance of seduction begins as soon as Julie, in a live wire performance by Heather Chrisler, strides into the kitchen like a panther stalking it’s prey.  John, like most prey, senses the hint of danger emanating from Julie but, having longed for the boss’ daughter his whole life, is powerless to resist it.  This, however, is where the story did not quite resonate with me as powerfully as perhaps it could.  The power dynamics are inherently unbalanced here as the privileged daughter clearly has the upper hand over the indebted farm laborer, of course.  But what I wanted more of was less imbalance between the passions of John and Julie.  Julie comes across as a spoiled brat toying with her food out of boredom or malice and John appears to be going through with this dance because he can’t afford to lose his job.  I wanted an explosive release from years of pent up passion and what I got instead was a tragic business transaction.
The cast of Mies Julie includes T. Ayo Alston (Ukhokho), Heather Chrisler (Mies Julie), Jalen Gilbert (John) and Celeste Williams(Christine).
At Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue.
Adapted from August Strindberg’s Miss Julie
Written by Yaël Farber 
Directed by Dexter Bullard
Thru June 24, 2018
Mies Julie is recommended for mature audiences, ages 18 and above.
Tickets, priced $15 – $60, are now available at the box office, via phone at 773.871.3000, or online at www.victorygardens.org.

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