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

Jake Murray was born into a theatrical household, with director dad Braham Murray and theatre designer mother Johanna Bryant, and was bitten by the theatre bug himself during his teenage years when he began directing school productions.

“Growing up, dinner time in our household always involved a debate over writers such as Shakespeare or Chekov across the table whilst most families took this time to discuss TV soaps,” said Jake.

“The theatre was like a second home to me even then, especially the Royal Exchange in Manchester, where my father worked for decades as one of the founding artistic directors.

“Watching and absorbing such a variety of plays was a great education for me, and definitely shaped the person who I am now.”

During his lifetime, Braham worked on over two hundreds play, covering everything from Joe Orton (a close friend of his), to Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams. In 2010, he was awarded an OBE for his services to drama.

Performed by North-East theatre company Elysium at the Queen’s Hall Art Centre, Miss Julie is set on a midsummer night in an old manor house, and follows the forbidden relationship between the aristocratic Julie, the daughter of a lord, and the family’s head butler, John.

As social classes are turned on their head for one night only, chaos begins to reign, leading to fatal consequences for the couple.

“It’s like Downtown Abbey with the gloves off,” said Jake. “Social class and oppression are at the core of the play, but it’s also thrilling, intense and unpredictable.

“I was reading Strindberg’s plays when I was a teenager and fell in love with them. Putting on a performance of Miss Julie gave me a chance to show my enthusiasm for the play, which I believe is one of the most transformative of all time, being the first play to have working class characters taken seriously.”

For Jake, this performance of Miss Julie will be particularly poignant for Jake as Braham died just last year aged 75.

“I think my father would be delighted that I was doing this,” he said. “Although there was always a mix of pride and competition whenever we did the same play!”

Jake may have learnt countless directing skills from his father, but he isn’t afraid to bring his own interpretation to plays and acknowledges that the two share different styles.

“When I watched my father’s version it looked too pretty for my taste,” he said.

“It just wasn’t gritty enough, and it didn’t get close to the sexiness of how Strindberg wanted it to be.

“There wasn’t that chemistry between the leads that should have been there.”

Playing the leading lovers Julie and John, with plenty of passion on stage, will be Alice Frankham, and Jake’s fellow co-founder of the Elysium Theatre Company, Danny Solomon.

“I wouldn’t want to do this production with anyone who didn’t share the same level of chemistry that Alice and Danny have together,” said Jake.

“They are great representatives of Northern theatre, and we’re all excited to showcase our talent and hard work in Hexham.”

Miss Julie will run on Wednesday, March 13 and Thursday, March 14 at the Queen’s Hall in Hexham.