Written in 1888 by Swedish playwright August Stringberg, "Miss Julia" is today one of the most widely-screened plays on the world stage. A striking theme raised in it is how the social environment plays a decisive influence in the construction of human character and the ideals that will dictate the actions of the grown man. In addition to the literary and philosophical nuances that undoubtedly add more depth and impact, the play is also awarded historical value.
It marks the beginning of a new cultural trend, namely the birth of the Scandinavian Theater of Naturalism. Miss Julia is the first naturalistic play to be staged on the Copenhagen theater stage. A wonderful new reading, according to the translation of Vasa Gancheva, is offered to us by Yosif Sarchadzhiev, who never hid his great desire to put the most famous Stringberg play on the Bulgarian stage. Here, with his inherent directing skills and two actors who have repeatedly proven their multifaceted talent, the mechanisms of art are activated to produce an exciting and memorable theatrical experience. The action at Miss Julia begins the night before the coming of the day* and develops within half a day. Tradition dictates that flowers, herbs and grasses be picked, which carry magical power on this day.
There is a contagious excitement in the air that cloudes the human mind. The main characters are three: the young aristocrat Julia, the layman Jean and the cook Christine. "Appears" and the fourth character - Julia's father, who the audience actually can't see with his eyes, but feels his presence due to the heavy boom of boots, which echoes in the middle of the stage to emphasize his high social status The play addresses the problem of the eternal opposition between masters and servants, the longing of people for what they lack - rich love and poor wealth.
The plot twists around the fateful clash between the aristocrat Julia (in the role of Joanna Bukovska-Davidova) and the footman Jean (Kalin Vrachanski). The first scene takes us into the kitchen of an aristocratic mansion, where the usual holiday euphoria boils. People can sing and dance in the distance. Chef Christine bustles around the stove. Jean, the count's footman, enters. From their dialogue, it becomes clear that there is a friendship between the two, and perhaps more. Jean does not hide her indignation at the strange behavior of the Count's daughter and concludes that she has lost her mind.
From Christine's words, we understand that the young aristocrat has just recently ruined her engagement to a man assigned to her husband for a reason lacking in reason and meaning. This, as well as the subsequent events, delicately shape the notion that Miss Julia is experiencing an emotional crisis. Dressed in a long orange dress, emphasizing her elegant figure, Yoana Bukovska-Davidova presents to the audience a wonderful mix of flirtatiousness, violent temper and arrogance, which resemble a noble lady. The emotional state of the heroine is clearly out of bounds. We see Julia confused, labile, hysterical. At one point she is in a pleasant euphoria - laughing, bouncing, singing, but not long afterwards the degree of her emotions dramatically goes to the other extreme - she screams, she stabs a knife in the table, crashes to the floor.
This shaky soul world defines Miss Julia's character as extremely complex, but in a delightful way Bukovska breathes life into us and makes us feel empowered by the heroine's experiences. The contradictory behavior of the heroine is, in fact, intended to show the social problems that naturalist writers have long been concerned with, namely how she falls victim to her aristocratic origins and the slave of her primary passions.
Bukovska and Vrachanski prove to be a great tandem. For the first time, I have the pleasure of watching them together on the stage. They really ignited the sexual tension with each other and left its fire smoldering until the end of the show. Thanks to their perfectly balanced, artistically shaped and emotionally charged performances, the story sounded real, sensual and remained socially relevant. Bukovska is a rare blend of femininity, intellect and grace that always gives weight and uniqueness to her incarnations, whether they are in the theater or on screen. Mira Varbanova, who brilliantly played her supporting role as Christine, is also worthy of a standing ovation. Without her heroine, the full disclosure of the characters of the main characters could not be achieved, and the voice of reason could occasionally be heard. Kalin Vrachanski enters the image of the attractive Jean, whose benevolent appearance turns out to be false. But things are never as they seem on the surface. The mask of obedience and good manners falls to reveal a less pleasant entity. Taking advantage of the unstable condition of the rich daughter, yesterday's seducer begins a treacherous play of feelings, pushing Julia to life-threatening actions. Jean is also a naturalistic character, a victim of her poor ancestry. It embodies the plight of a poor society; demonstrates hypocrisy, greed, betrayal in love. The main driver of his actions is the desire to get out of poverty quickly and to climb the social ladder.
The other two socially significant themes of the play's naturalism, which are the sexual relationships that enslave the human soul and make it wander between love and hate forever; and sex, as a major way for people from low social strata to make their way to high society, to a better, financially secure life. Undoubtedly, Miss Julia is an influential play whose issues remain relevant today. Miss Julia is a production of 199 Theater. The director's chair is occupied by Yosif Sarchadzhiev, set design by Nevena Beleva, music by Martin Karov. If the story is intriguing to you, but you can't watch it, look for 2014's Liv Ulman movie Miss Miss Julie starring Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton.
* Since the play is of Swedish origin, it is fair to say that Sweden and Finland have declared National Day a national holiday. It is the longest day of the year. It is traditionally celebrated on the Saturday between 20 and 26 July, and goes into songs and dances around flower-filled pillars called the majstång. There are some differences in the interpretation and actual celebration of the holiday in Bulgaria and Sweden, but the belief in the magical and healing power of flowers, herbs and herbs remains unchanged.