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Following in father's footsteps

Published: 10 February 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Jake Murray, Artistic Director of Elysium Theatre Company (which he set up in Durham in 2017 with Danny Solomon), is to direct August Strindberg’s classic Miss Julie which he first saw when it was directed by his father Braham Murray 25 years ago.

Braham Murray was Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester from its opening in 1976 until 2012, directing 65 productions there and being awarded the OBE for his work in 2012. He died last year at the age of 75.

Commenting on his father’s 1995 production of Miss Julie, which starred Amanda Donohoe, he said, “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! “

Not that he was that keen on his father’s production.

“When I watched my father’s version, it looked too pretty, it just wasn’t gritty enough,” he said. “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’.”

He is a Strindberg fan: “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.

“Strindberg's 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.”

He has moved his Miss Julie from its original setting, Strindberg's native Sweden, to the North East.

The production will visit The Queens Hall, Hexham on 13 and 14 March, The Gala in Durham on 23, The Exchange in North Shields from 28 to 30 and The Majestic Theatre, Darlington on 3 and 4 April.