Upstage there is a set with an enclosed room and other smaller spaces, including two booths like those used for sound recording. The room is dressed as a kitchen, with walls which have extensive glass panelling allowing the audience to see inside. Downstage there are elements of furniture, a table for sound effects, and video cameras, monitors and lights. This is the setting for Katie Mitchell and Leo Warner’s astonishing Fraulein Julie, originally staged at Schaubuhne Berlin and at the Barbican only until tomorrow. (I started this post on Tuesday night but it’s been a crazily busy week, so apologies for the tardiness of its appearance.) Over 80 taut minutes, the actors and creatives make and mix a live “film” after Strindberg’s play, with live sound effects and music. The appeal is both to the mind and to the heart, with an experience embedded in the late 19th century but also acutely, precisely of now. Yet for me this bold, sometimes breathtaking experiment brought to mind nothing so much as live television drama as it used to be made in the studio twenty.thirty, even fifty years ago.
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