Isn’t it wonderful to have friends who are very cultural and keep an eye on interesting developments in the arts domain? Last year I received a call from my girlfriend Louise, who wanted to know if we would be interested in joining her and her husband on a theatre date to see August Strindberg’s play ‘Mademoiselle Julie’ with Juliette Binoche at the Barbican Centre. Without thinking twice I, of course, said yes and was very impressed with Louise’s organisational skills, as they play would be running for a week in September 2012-that’s what I call planning ahead .)
The play is directed by Frederic Fisbachand is in French ( my husband wasn’t too impressed with me, as he doesn’t speak French, but there were subtitles ) and the costumes were designed by no other than the master himself Albert Elbaz who has been taking the house of Lanvin to new heights with his every single collection-so far, so intriguing, right?
Mademoiselle Julie is a very well-known and popular play in the theatres around the world, but it was the first time that I saw it. The theatre at the Barbican is very intimate and cosy and thanks to Louise, we all sat fairly close to the stage (but not too close).
The play tells a story of the Count’s daughter, Mademoiselle Julie, who starts an affair with her father’s servant during Midsummer’s night, that leads to dire consequences. It was very cleverly adapted to our present times and the dialogue flowed so beautifully that at times I felt very intimately engrossed in what was going on before my eyes, even when some of the dialogue felt a little bit disturbing.
The adaptation of the play is not only modern, but vibrant too, even though at times the lights were too bright and the mesanscene a little confusing-in one scene you had a rabbit and a tree? (a yeti ?) standing motionless on the stage and some people in the audience tried to stifle a quiet giggle of amusement ? or bafflement…..
Juliette Binoche is absolutely mesmerising on stage-initially, in part, due to the stunning molten gold dress that she is dancing and performing in, and later, when she is dressed very casually in a jackets, top, trousers and trainers ( which feels almost as if she was stark naked on stage-just her and the audience ) when nothing can deter from the strength of her talent and her power over her audience-she is humorous, tender, nervous, hysterical….And she nails her heroine with such perfection and poignancy, that I times I felt really rattled or even disturbed by the events that unfolded before my eyes.
Her main partners on stage, Nicolas Bouchaud who plays Jean, the servant and the maid and Jean’s fiancee Kirstin ( played very touchingly and with feeling by Bénédicte Cerutti ) are absolutely fantastic and easily stand on their own or partner one of France’s biggest movie stars of today.
The pace was fast and so was the dancing, but the dialogue wasn’t hurried, you could hear every word and they resonated with their poignancy. The stage was spectacular with glass partitions that separated the rooms in the house-living room, bedroom, kitchen etc and even birch trees in the distance. The only slight discomfort was caused by the above mentioned too bright light and the need to look at the subtitles if you were a non-French speaker-my husband almost gave up at some stage and said that his eyes felt really strained.
For me theatre is a great pleasure, particularly when you don’t go to see plays weekly or at times even monthly, and this play and the actors certainly created such magic that I will definitely be reminiscing about this play and the actors, when I look back on my past cultural experiences.