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Victorian tale of upstairs, downstairs passion and battle of the sexes

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

connection: From left, Lisa Fletcher, Jolyon Tuck and Hannah Samuel

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TOADS Theatre Company presents Miss Julie at the Little Theatre, Torquay, from February 9 to 16.

The play, by August Strindberg, translated by Helen Cooper, is directed by Dianne Ffitch.

It's set on Midsummer Eve, 1888. The servants' celebrations are in full swing, but the count's daughter, the beautiful and imperious Miss Julie, feels trapped and alone.

In the servants' kitchen, handsome and rebellious footman Jean is restless.

When Miss Julie and the footman meet, a passion is ignited which spirals out of control, crossing the strict social and sexual boundaries of the late Victorian era.

When harmless flirtation descends into a ferocious power struggle and battle of the sexes, neither can escape.

It caused a scandal and public protests when it was first staged – it was banned in the UK for 50 years after it was first written.

It is now widely regarded as Strindberg's masterpiece and has been hugely popular ever since for its honest portrayal of the conflict between social position and sexuality in the late 19th century.

Dianne Ffitch praised her committed cast. She said:"During the rehearsal period, there have been moments when they have taken my breath away, and made the hairs on my arms stand up — such is the connection between the characters.

" I hope the audience enjoy watching as much as I have enjoyed directing this wonderful classic."

Strindberg deliberately set the action of the play in a servants' kitchen — a place of work with cooking range, scullery table and mismatched furniture — so we see the heroine descending into another world.

She might throw her head back and laugh, dance, drink and flirt, but underneath she is part spoiled brat, part abused child, and part depressive, but overall she is lonely. She yearns to break free from tradition, but does not realise once she crosses the line, there is no return.

Curtain up at 7.30pm.

To book tickets, visit www.toadslittletheatre.co.uk or telephone 01803 299330.

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