INTERVIEW: Charlotte Hamblin chats about MISS JULIE at Jermyn Street Theatre
Miss Julie is a ground-breaking masterpiece that still provokes and shocks audiences today. Award-winning playwright Howard Brenton brings Strindberg’s genius to life in this brilliant new adaptation – the first staging of Miss Julie in the West End since 2000, playing at Jermyn Street Theatre until 2 December 2o17.
In a recent interview you mentioned that you first read Miss Julie when you were 12. What was it that resonated with your 12 year old self and do those things still ring true today?
It’s quite a young age to be left alone to read Strindberg isn’t it?! I was a bit of a Romantic child. I think I was attracted to the trauma and the melodrama of Julie. Like a child, she says what she feels and does what she wants. I loved that. I mean to be honest I didn’t understand much of it… all children love the idea of the absent parent figure and Julie is no exception. Left to her own devices she causes chaos. I think there’s something quite fabulous about that. As an adult I adore it… I think we all want to let rip and tell people what we think but lucky we’ve been taught not to! It’s very satisfying to play.
How faithful to Strindberg’s writing is the production?
Howard Brendon’s version is the closest thing to the original I think you can get. He’s stayed incredibly faithful to what Strindberg originally wrote and it’s paid off. He’s not messed with it. He’s stuck to the truth and by god it works.
Strindberg, along with Ibsen, is often seen as being ahead of their time with the themes and issues explored in their plays. How does Strindberg’s writing speak to today’s audiences?
Yes they are. With regards to women especially. But I think what speaks to our current audiences is the honest portrayal of someone with severe mental health issues. We watch Julie have a break down throughout the show, screwed by the circumstance she was born into. That never ceases to be relevant.
The Jermyn Street Theatre is an intimate space that I’m sure will present challenges as well as opportunities. How will the intimate setting affect the play?
It’s brilliant. The audience are locked in with Julie on her journey. She can’t escape, she can’t get out and neither can they. I think it’s extraordinary to be right up and in the action… though I did trip over an audience member’s legs the other night!
Has Miss Julie taught you anything new about yourself?
I think I’ve realised my stamina is better than I ever knew! The energy you need for a show like this is huge. It’s also made me realise how lucky I am. To be able to play an epic role like this at my age so early on in my career is mind blowing.
In 2016, you had success with your play For Those Who Cry When They Hear the Foxes Scream. Who are your influences as a writer?
Ah such a good question. Duncan Macmillan who wrote ‘Lungs’ is a huge influence… but saying that I nicked some phrases from Coward too! And then the wit and use of dialogue of Lena Dunham and the story telling of Sarah Silverman… you can’t beat it!
Why do you think people should come and see this production of Miss Julie at the Jermyn Street Theatre?
If they can get a ticket! It’s nearly sold out! We don’t mess with it. It’s a truthful production, beautiful, brutal and utterly unafraid of silence. I couldn’t be prouder. Tom Littler is a genius. Simple.
Thanks for having Tea With Wilma
Interview by Harrison Fuller