Salomé ★★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Aug 25 - Sep 11, 2021


This production of Salomé by Lazarus Theatre Company is stunning in so many ways. Oscar Wilde's rarely performed and bizarre play needs very careful handling. This sumptuous version uses a traverse staging with the audience appearing to be seated on either side of a gigantic banquet table upon which much of the action occurs. Ricky Dukes has updated the play and directs with great confidence; he doesn't shirk from Wilde's tendency towards verbosity and the melodramatic. He has changed the production from that seen at Greenwich Theatre in 2019, eliminating minor characters and returning to Wilde's single act format. Brilliant lighting and sound by Will Thompson and Ben Jacobs create a shattering atmosphere as Jokannan, played by Prince Plockey, prowls incessantly around his prison cell while interjecting occasional ranting outbursts. Re-gendering Salomé to make him a male prince works seamlessly and Fred Thomas brings an ethereal, but evil, calm to his demands. During a sensational Dance of the Seven Veils, which uses Strauss's orgiastic music from the opera, the androgynous young prince is pursued around the room by Jamie O'Neill's vile and lascivious Herod. The sexual obsession with Salomé is given full rein as the king attempts to sway him with bribes. This is a superb portrayal that has, perhaps, more than just a touch of Trump about it. When Salomé ultimately achieves his goal and receives a representation of the head of Jokannan we gasp, horrified by the obscene final images. It is doubtful that Wilde's Salomé will ever receive a more thrillingly visceral production.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Adam Trigg.

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