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Preview: Miss Julie on tour

Theatre director Jake Murray brings play Miss Julie to the North East, 24 years after seeing his famous father’s version on stage

Miss Julie
Durham Gala Theatre March 23rd,
North Shields The Exchange March 28th – 30th,
Darlington Majestic Theatre April 3rd - 4th.

A theatre director is following in his famous father’s footsteps by bringing the classic play Miss Julie to the stage, almost 25 years after seeing his dad’s version.

Jake Murray grew up in a theatrical household, with director dad Braham Murray who received an OBE for his work in 2010, and theatre designer mum Johanna Bryant.

In 1995 he watched Braham’s take on Miss Julie, which starred Amanda Donohoe at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and vowed to stage his own version one day.  Fast-forward a quarter of a century and Jake’s vision of Miss Julie, which focuses on the relationship between the daughter of a Lord and his head butler/valet, is finally being brought to life.

He has adapted the historic play, which was written by August Strindberg in Sweden in 1888, to set it in the North East of England and it will be performed at stages across the region when it tours from March 13th – April 4th.

Jake said: “Having a theatre director dad and a theatre designer mum, I grew up with talks about playwrights and productions at the dinner table, when most people would be discussing TV soaps.  I was reading Strindberg’s plays when I was a teenager and fell in love with them. The man who translated his plays into English Michael Meyer was a friend of the family, and he became a mentor to me.  I want to show my enthusiasm for Strindberg Miss Julie is one of the most transformative plays of all time, all working-class drama has a debt to the play – even shows like Coronation Street and EastEnders. Miss Julie was the first play to have working class characters taken seriously.”

Miss Julie will visit The Queens Hall, Hexham March 13th – 14th, the Gala Theatre, Durham March 23rd, The Exchange, North Shields March 28th – 30th and The Majestic Theatre, Darlington April 3rd-4th. The production will also feature local amateur actors and students from each of the areas it is being performed, as part of the cast.

The play will be particularly poignant as Braham, who worked on hundreds of plays in his lifetime and was awarded an OBE for his services to drama, died just last year aged 75.  Jake added: “I think my father would be delighted that I was doing this. There was always a mix of pride and competition whenever we did the same play. When I watched my father’s version it looked too pretty, it just wasn’t gritty enough. It didn’t get close to the sexiness of how Strindberg wanted it to be. The actors who are playing Miss Julie and John in my production have known each other for years and the chemistry between them is amazing. I want people to come away thinking ‘I want to read and see more of his stuff’.”

Jake set up Durham-based theatre company Elysium in 2017 with Danny Solomon, who will play the male lead, John, in the production.  Local, amateur actors from each of the locations that the play is being performed (Hexham, Durham, North Shields and Darlington) have also been cast to be part of the ensemble.  The company aims to bring the best in theatre to the North East and sets its plays in various locations across the region.

Rehearsal Photos: Ed Rees

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