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How far would you go to shed the mask society is forcing you to wear?

Darlinghurst Theatre Company addresses this and more in the complex and imaginative adaptation of the August Strindberg classic, Miss Julie.

On the 100th anniversary of Strindberg’s death, director Cristabel Sved (The Business) and actor Kate Box (Offspring) bring to life the brutal and challenging psychological thriller.

“We were interested in exploring the psychology of the characters, how they are damaged, powerless and complex,” explains Box.

Originally set on the eve of Midsummer 1888 on a Swedish estate, Strindberg explores the restrictions and expectations society places on gender, relationships and set roles.

“He writes such damaged characters, they battle to the death and are pushed to the edges of their psyche. The fascination of watching people trying to fight it out with each other is ageless,” says Box.

This creative adaptation, set in the 21st century, explores the controversial themes presented in the original 19th century production – including the scandal of an aristocratic young lady flirting with a servant – and changes them to resonate with the here-and-now.

“It is a contemporary design. We wanted to keep a conversation between the two centuries, because although a lot has changed a lot hasn’t,” explains Box.

A tragic classic, Miss Julie looks set to pack a punch all the way to the fatal closing scene.

“It’s the challenge of the piece to meet that tragic end, but none of the [characters] walk quietly to their finish, they leave kicking and screaming. It’s exhilarating.”

Oct 16-Nov 11, Darlinghurst Theatre, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point, $33-38, 8356 9987, darlinghursttheatre.com  

BY SHAUNA O’CARROLL