Why you should catch Vanessa Kirby’s performance in Julie in cinemas

Vanessa Kirby‘s run in the National Theatre’s Julie ended last weekend, but I would highly recommend you catch it when it screens in cinemas over September and October, because her performance is incredible.

The production is an adaptation of August Strindberg’s 1888 play Miss Julie, but it has been given a massive modern overhaul. The overarching story is still the same but I didn’t recognise a lot of the dialogue, though I must point out that I’ve only seen the 2014 period drama version starring Jessica Chastain.

The action still takes place in a kitchen of a wealthy home and is still a power play between the rich daughter Julie (Kirby) and her dad’s chauffeur Jean (Eric Kofi Abrefa), who is engaged to her maid Kristina (Thalissa Teixeira). This time around we are in a modern kitchen in London in the early hours of the morning while a house party for Julie’s birthday rages on. Julie has many, many problems, has consumed many drugs and booze and is feeling extremely lonely, so she looks to Jean for some company and a passionate power play ensues.

Kirby is excellent. Julie is wild and not in a good place. She’s self-medicating to numb herself from the pain of losing her mother and being regularly abandoned by her jetsetting father and has suicidal tendencies. She was fragile and vulnerable at the start, but then her mental state dwindles throughout the course of the play and comes to a shocking finale. Kirby will be nominated for awards for this, 100%.

Abrefa is a good match though and is one slippery fish – does he truly like Julie or is he scheming to get her money? I couldn’t figure him out. His performance is commanding, and Teixeira is sympathetic and where our heart truly lies.

The staging is incredible. The kitchen takes up the whole of the stage, but then a back wall raises to show another room in the house where the party is taking place. There are lots of dancers and dance music – in fact there isn’t much speech in the beginning, just music. This device is used often to great effect.

It took me a while to get into it but once the power dynamics and relationships had been established, I was involved, although I must admit my mind wandered sometimes. It zips along too, with no interval and a one hour 15 minute running time.

I’m not sure you’ll be able to appreciate the staging as much in the cinema, but besides the lifting back wall, it is just a stationery set and it’s all about the performances so I wouldn’t worry about that.

Julie is screening in selected cinemas across the UK in September and October 

%d bloggers like this: