Maxine Peake takes the title role in David Eldridge’s new version of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie at the Royal Exchange Theatre next month.

Last seen at the Exchange in The Children's Hour, her many TV credits include Veronica in Shameless and Myra Hindley in See No Evil. She was BAFTA nominated for her performance in Hancock and Joan and is about to return to the small screen in the role of barrister Martha Costello in a the second series of BBC1's legal drama Silk.

She plays the beautiful and imperious Miss Julie, despondent after breaking off her engagement and left alone in her father’s mansion on a Swedish country estate on a hot midsummer’s eve.

The drama centres on her relationship with footman Jean - handsome, anarchic, resentful of the class system but greedy to rise to the top. For many years he has watched her and desired her. Passions simmer as they find themselves alone together below stairs. Through the heat of the night an exchange of dreams and memories builds to a fevered duel.

Strindberg’s late nineteenth century masterpiece caused a scandal when first produced and has been hugely popular ever since for its searingly honest portrait of the class system and human sexuality.

The play has been adapted from a literal translation by Charlotte Barslund by David Eldridge – whose plays have been staged at the National, Donmar Warehouse, Bush and Hampstead theatres over the last 15 years. His most recent play In Basildon is currently playing at the London’s Royal Court. Previous adaptations include Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, John   Gabriel Borkman and The Lady From the Sea (which was staged at the Royal Exchange in 2010).

The production is directed by Royal Exchange Artistic Director Sarah Frankcom whose recent RET successes include Punk Rock and Beautiful Thing.

Talking about Miss Julie, she said: “When I first read it, I was troubled and excited by it in equal measure. Then over time I became interested in the fact that at the centre of the play there is a psychologically complex character – you’re watching two people living at the full extent of their animal instinct. It’s enthralling. If it’s done right, the audience are on the edge of their seats – they can’t breathe.”

Jean will be played by Joe Armstrong who is making his first appearance at the Exchange. His many TV credits include Allan A Dale in BBC 1 series Robin Hood. His recent stage credits include Flare Path at London’s Haymarket Theatre. Also appearing are Carla Henry and Liam Gerrard and a team of six supernumaries made up of local drama students.

The production is designed by Max Jones and the creative team is completed by Johanna Town (lighting),  Steve Brown (sound) and Olly Fox (composer).

Miss Julie runs at the Royal Exchange from 11 April - 12 May.