Mike and I treated each other to a play in New York for our Christmas gift to each other. The show is called After Miss Julie by Patrick Marber, the playwright of Closer and the movie Notes on a Scandal. I like his work very much and I love the play After Miss Julie is based on -Miss Julie, a Swedish play from 1888. So I was really really excited to see the story about class struggles, politics and sexuality taken out of the original context and put in the context of 1945 England. To put the cherry on top of my cake, Jonny Lee Miller was playing the only male role in the show. I have had a boner for him since I was thirteen when I saw him in Hackers. Needless to say, I was excited to see this show.
Our seats were in the second to last row of the mezzanine but it was a small space for a Broadway show and we could see everything. The set was fantastic- it was an English estate kitchen with a real slate floor and beautiful set decoration. The show started off quiely and that's okay. I appreciate a good slow burn. But then Sienna Miller showed up on stage as the titular Miss Julie. I was a little skeptical of her before the show. Her experience is almost totally in film and not a lot of film actors can make the shift to stage acting very well. It's a totally different acting skill than film. An actor can be brilliant in film but suck on the stage. I wouldn't say Sienna Miller is brilliant in film but she proved my point today. There was absolutely no subtlety to her role. She was at the same level of eleven the whole time. And it really upset me. That left very little for her two costars to work with. Jonny Lee Miller was working so hard to connect with her and it looked like he was trying to act with a cardboard cutout. She was just terrible. No motivation anywhere. I wanted to hit her with a rock to get her to convey anything other than hautiness. It left a lot of frustrating questions to be answered.
Luckily there was a question and answer session after the show and we got to stay for it!! Whenever we get a q and a session I always wait too long to ask my question. This time I wasn't going to let that happen to me. So, as soon as the opportunity came, I shot my hand in the air like a jack-ass. Sienna Miller and the other actor, Marin Ireland, came out at first. So I addressed my question to them, "What about this play do you find relevant to today's audience?" You thought I was going to ask Ms. Miller if she knows what it means to act, didn't you? Well, I'm not that mean. I wanted to see what message the actors and directors wanted to convey to the people of 2009 America. Give the play a frame. Unfortunately, I got a non-answer. Both women stuttered around and mentioned the fact that the play took place during tremendous political upheaval, an upheaval some would say we're going through now. Then they wanted to know what I thought. I was offered the microphone to respond and I was like, "I didn't know if you were going for a political angle or a sexual angle." In the middle of my sentence out came JLM and he listened attentively to the last of my statement (sigh) and then listened to the moderator's better answer about how class is still an issue today and simply said, "Cruelty is timeless." He made me wish I waited for him to ask my question.
I kicked myself for the terrible exchange but Mike assured me I asked a good question just simply got a bad answer. Then we were subjected to terrible questions from old women like, "I don't know what happened- did you kill yourself at the end?" Miss Julie walked off stage holding a razor to her neck. What do you think? And that woman wasn't even the only one who didn't understand that. I think that's a testament to Ms. Miller's unfocused performance. Anyway, it was painful and I wished I thought of something better to ask.
I'm critical. I'm sure plenty of people liked the show but I looked up the Times review of the play while writing this post and the critic pretty much said everything I said here but better written. Seeing shows like that make me want to direct or act again. If I watch plays so critically I should be able to perform them with the same specificity. That's what is missing from shows that I don't like. Specificity. So get on it Sienna Miller!