View Our Facebook PageView Our Facebook PageView Our Facebook Page
Your Guide to Cultural
Arts in America
Art Museums, Theater, Dance
& Music Happenings in 90+ Cities!
or go to
Arts America Blogs

Miss Julie

Miss Julie

The Naked Stage once again proves it is a small but mighty theatre company with it’s recent striking production of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie. Written in 1888, Miss Julie (here translated by Michael Meyer) is a naturalistic play dealing with class, love, lust, the battle of the sexes, and the interaction among them.

The play is set on Midsummer’s Eve on the estate of a Count in Sweden, with the action taking place in the kitchen of the manor.  Miss Julie (Katherine Amadeo), the strong-willed daughter of the count who owns the estate, attempts to escape an existence cramped by social mores and to have a little fun by dancing at the servants’ annual midsummer party. This act in and of itself would not be sanctioned by her father who is away on a trip.  The Count himself is never seen, though his gloves and boots remain on stage, and the ringing of the bell summoning his servants announce his return later in the play reminding all of their appropriate station in life.

At the dance Miss Julie is drawn to a valet named Jean (Matthew William Chizever). She comes to the kitchen in search of Jean who stays there with his fiancée, Christine the cook (Deborah L. Sherman).  Miss Julie is aware of the power she holds, but switches between being above the servants and flirting with Jean.  Raised by her late mother to “think like and act like a man”, she dares to act on what she wants – meaning Jean, in a situation that results in a physical consummation of that attraction. Jean Claims to have loved her from afar since he was a child, but his sincerity is questionable as he quickly demonstrates a lack of respect for both her station and her readiness to give herself to him. A dishonored Miss Julie is undone by her actions as they directly contradict the societal expectations of her gender and station.  In the end she sees her only choices as running away with Jean or taking her own life.

Katherine Amadeo is stunning as the over-privileged Miss Julie.  She is coquettish in every way in her pursuit of Jean, yet there is something naïve in her portrayal that is at the heart of her unpreparedness to accept the repercussions of what is to come. The events of the night leave her intellectually conflicted and emotionally bruised. Amadeo’s turmoil is always clear while remaining underplayed enough to escape melodrama. She is an actress of both efficiency and elegance.

Matthew L. Chizever’s Jean is a bit of a cad though without preplanned manipulation.  He captures the essence of a clever man of simple station, with a hunger to step outside his lot and reach for more.  Having his way with Miss Julie seems only natural.  She is a beautiful woman who throws herself at him, but she is also a member of the elusive upper-class.  As much as Jean longs to break free of the constraints of class division it is as though he resents Miss Julie in part for allowing the division to falter enough to allow their dalliance. Again his conflict is quite clear, and one can nearly see the wheels turning behind his eyes as he fast forwards to a way out of his predicament.

One could wish that the role of Christine was more fleshed out in the script, especially when played by an actress as talented as Deborah L. Sherman. After all she is the voice of the way that things should be.  Her character seems direct and straight forward – plain and matter-of-fact in the face of her station and the evening’s events.  Yet there is clearly more to be said by Christine who places her faith in the class system and in God and the church.

This production features a simple set of a country kitchen.  Lighting is used well in the small space, and sound is flawless.  The accent work for this production is really rather good, and the flow/pacing near perfection.  Theatre is after all about the craft of acting not the gimmick of expensive production values.  Naked Stage takes us back to what theatre should be if we only trust in the talent of the actors and the truth of the written word.

Johan August Strindberg (1849 – 1912) was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter.  He was a prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experiences.  Strindberg’s career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography, history, cultural analysis, and politics.  From his earliest work, Strindberg used innovative forms of dramatic methods in his writing from naturalistic tragedies, monodramas, and history plays, to his use of expressionist and surrealist language, and visual composition. He is considered the “father” of modern Swedish literature and his The Red Room (1879) has frequently been described as the first modern Swedish novel.

This Naked Stage production of Miss Julie appeared May 23 – June 8, 2014 at the Pelican Theatre. The Pelican Theatre is located on the campus of Barry University at 11300 NE 2nd Ave. in Miami Shores. For information on Naked Stage please call 866-811-4111 or visit them online at

Miss Julie: Katherine Amadeo, Jean: Matthew William Chizever, Christine: Deborah L. Sherman*

Director: Margaret Ledford, Scenic Design: Antonio Amadeo, Lighting Design: Margaret M. Ledford, Sound Design: Mitch Furman, Costume Design: Deborah L. Sherman, Dialect Coach: Kathryn Johnson, Stage Manager: Jovan Jacobs

*Indicates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.