Miss Julie, Rising Sun Theatre, at Wing & Groove Theatre. Is Miss Julie a prototypical feminist or a bored debutante slumming? Is the servant Jean an abusive sexist pig or a poor boy with a lot to lose? And is their conflict based on gender issues--many call Strindberg drama's arch-misogynist--or economic inequities?
Whatever Rising Sun Theatre's answers to these questions, the company's execution resembles a hastily done classroom project, with motifs seemingly determined more by expedience than adherence to a goal. The floor is strewn with multihued paint chips, for example, and the servants' livery decorated with artfully placed splashes of color, but what this signifies remains unclear.
Neither director Allison Prouty nor performers Lindsay Allen and Michael E. Smith seem to have made any attempt to establish character or motive or to locate these individuals in a social or personal context. And since the youthful actors deliver their dialogue in their own midwestern accents, Strindberg's caste-crossed lovers come off not as symbols of a society on the brink of upheaval but as two high school students debating the merits of their respective cliques, an impression heightened by Helen Cooper's translation.
--Mary Shen Barnidge