The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

‘Queen of Basel’ at Theater Works Hartford a powerful, explosive show

- By Bonnie Goldberg

HARTFORD — With hints and whispers from the Swedish playwright August Strindberg and his 1888 opus, “Miss Julie,” Theater Works Hartford is offering up, on a silver platter, a new view of Julie set in modern-day Miami with a trio of intriguing Latinx actors.

In Hilary Bettis’ “Queen of Basel,” you are invited, until Feb. 26, to visit the royal court of Miss Julie, a conflicted and complex woman who suffers as a poor little rich girl with a tyrant father who controls her every move. Without a mother to protect her, she finds herself without freedom of choice, forced to obey the dictates of her parental ruler.

Right now, she is holding court in the storage kitchen of one of her father’s many holdings. She has sought refuge there after a cocktail waitress spilled a tray of alcoholic drinks on her lovely green dress.

As a socialite and heiress, Julie cannot afford to embarrass her father, so the kitchen has become a temporary sanctuary. Christine, the waitress who caused the collision, is attempting to clean her dress, unsuccessf­ully, and has called her fiance John, an Uber driver, to take Julie home.

An explosive confrontat­ion arises, secrets and lies are revealed, love and lust are put to the test, and who really has the power is tested. Race and heritage are questioned, flirtation­s fly out of control, passions are explored, dreams are destroyed, and who will survive this encounter is in serious doubt.

The evening finds Christine Spang’s Julie giving up on her hardfought fight to abandon drinking after five years of sobriety, Silvia Dionicio’s Christine finding a novel way to save her mother and daughter trapped in

Venezuela, and Kelvin Grullon’s John experienci­ng the highs and lows of almost getting his life’s goals fulfilled, but suddenly dashed.

This is powerful and explosive theater that will have you exhausted with emotions by the end of its 90-minute conclusion. As Julie goes more and more out of control, we learn almost too much about her past, and how her mother’s death from breast cancer still affects her years later.

Cristina Angeles holds a stronghold on the action, ensuring an evening of theater you will long remember.

For tickets ($25 to $65), call Theater Works Hartford, 233 Pearl St., Hartford, at 860-527-7838 or visit Performanc­es are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Select performanc­es

require masks.

Experience the behindthe-scenes world at Art Basel, a party time for the movers and shakers of the art world, where heartache and ambition collide and break, and, like, Humpty Dumpty, can’t be put back together again.

 ?? Mike Marques/Contribute­d photo ?? Christine Spang and Kelvin Grullon appear in “Queen of Basel” at Theater Works Hartford through Feb. 26.
Mike Marques/Contribute­d photo Christine Spang and Kelvin Grullon appear in “Queen of Basel” at Theater Works Hartford through Feb. 26.

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