As all the great dramatists since the Greek tragedians have known, class and gender roles continue to remain the two fundamental determinants of the social fabric of any culture—even one, like our own, in which the boundaries of those identities have become fluid, situational and transitory.
David French’s adaptation of August Strindberg’s disturbing and enduring drama of the transgressive affair between the daughter of a count and the count’s man-servant has an eerie feel of the contemporary about it. In this adaptation of Miss Julie, French has sharpened the psychodramas of the original—scenes of conflict, desire, anger, jealousy, coercion, manipulation, exploitation, arrogance, dominance, submission and deceit—and backgrounded the historical elements of the play which have made it a favourite “period-piece” of the repertory theatre circuit. His revisioning of Miss Julie foregrounds the ruptures of identity and faith that ambition and desire eternally work in their rending of social norms, strictures and conventions, and he has re-enacted them in a contemporary idiom and vernacular that virtually cries out for the casting-call of a Paris Hilton to play the lead role.
As with his adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull, David French, one of Canada’s best-loved playwrights, has here once again paid homage to one of the enduring masters who have brought to the stage the most elemental and universal dramas of the human condition.