Bolton’s Maxine Peake is returning to the Royal Exchange to take the title role in a new version of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie.
It’s another challenging role for the Greater Manchester actress, who was last seen at the Exchange in The Children’s Hour, in which she played a boarding school headmistress accused of having a lesbian affair, and her many TV credits include the Moors Murderess Myra Hindley in See No Evil.
First published in 1888, Strindberg’s simmering play centres on two characters, the upper-class Miss Julie and aristocratic manservant Jean, each epitomising the battle of the sexes and the classes, and was too hot for Europe to handle. This version by David Eldridge is a fluent and accessible translation of the play, which was banned throughout most of the continet, including Strindberg’s Sweden until 1906.
It is directed by Sarah Frankcom, whose recent successes at the Royal Exchange include a production of another classic of Scandinavian theatre, Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea (2010).
Talking about Strindberg’s play, she said: “When I first read it, I was troubled and excited by it in equal measure. Then over time I became interested in the fact that at the centre of the play there is a psychologically complex character – you’re watching two people living at the full extent of their animal instinct. It’s enthralling. If it’s done right, the audience are on the edge of their seats – they can’t breathe.”
Jean will be played by Joe Armstrong who is making his first appearance at the Exchange. Also appearing are Carla Henry and Liam Gerrard and a team of six supernumaries made up of local drama students.
The production is designed by Max Jones and the creative team is completed by Johanna Town (lighting), Steve Brown (sound) and Olly Fox (composer).
Miss Julie is being shown at the Royal Exchange Theatre from April 11 – May 12. To book tickets online, go to - http://www.royalexchange.co.uk/event.aspx?id=499