This production of “Salome “, performed in the beautifully restored Hoxton Hall, is supposed to be “decadent”. However ,we can see a very eclectic performance. We are invited to King Herod’s birthday feast and the audience sits on both sides of a long table as the guests. The king himself,performed by Konstantinos Kavakiotis in an almost cabaret manner, does not seem at all frightening, and is almost a figure of fun.
Salome, performed by Denise Moreno, is at first dressed in a tutu, but the reason for this is never explained. Her feelings are also revealed by a woman who is stated in the programme to be Moon, and who plays out her emotions on musical instruments and in song.
The company has placed Oscar Wilde’s photograph among those of the production crew in a clear attempt to bring his play closer to our day. The production also seems to employ drawings of Aubrey Beardsley to create poses for the characters. However, there is no sense of atmosphere of the age of decadence in the performance. Much of the show seems to be melodramatic and overacted.
The famous dance of Salome is very sexualised,which is in stark contrast to her appearance throughout the performance. Denise Moreno reveals the young girl’s obsession well, and the scene with the murdered Iokanaan is very moving. Unlike many other productions, we are not shown a dummy head of Iokanaan brought on stage. Instead of that his whole body is covered with the red fabric used by Salome in her dance, so that we can only see his head placed on a plate, which is an effective theatrical way of showing his dead head.
The performance shows a story of passion and destruction, but does not give a clear message. The aestheticism which is essential to Oscar Wilde’s works is not very evident in the performance, and the whole attempt seems to be rushed. However, if one is not seeking too much depth in the production, it is gripping and thoroughly enjoyable, and time passes imperceptibly. The very close proximity of the audience to the action also increases the impact of the production.
First published at: www.playstosee.com