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What Comes After “After Miss Julie?”

Date: Oct 14, 2009


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After Miss Julie hasn’t changed that much since Patrick Marber wrote it in the mid-nineties, but now he sees it as a completely different play.

An adaptation of August Strindberg’s classic drama Miss Julie, Marber’s piece follows a wealthy young British woman who twists in a sexual and psychological web with one of the servants in her family’s home. It’s been seen in major theatres throughout the world, and on October 22, the Roundabout Theatre will mount the show’s Broadway premiere. For Marber, best known for the dark relationship drama Closer, the current production is a chance to rediscover one of his earliest works.

He says, “When I wrote the play, I was thirty one. This was the play that led me to Closer, and at the time, I thought I’d written something snarling and brutal.”

Since then, however, Marber has had three children and gained over a decade of perspective. “Now, as a middle aged man, I see After Miss Julie as a play about doomed youth,” he says. “I think of the characters as children. They’re both trying so hard to escape who they are and embrace a type of freedom that’s not available to them. They want to run away and have an adventure, but they don’t have the ability or the means.”

Anyone familiar with Marber’s play (or with Strindberg’s) might be surprised to hear it described in such rueful terms, since Julie’s story is generally accepted as a harsh look at class and gender warfare. Perhaps, then, the Broadway production, which stars Sienna Miller and Johnny Lee Miller, will shake up the audience’s take on the story.

Meanwhile, Marber is also having a deeply personal response to the show. “When I wrote the play, my life stretched out before me,” he says. “Now when I see it, I find myself nostalgic for the me that wrote it.”

Mark Blankenship is TDF’s online content editor