What lengths would you go to be with the one you love?
Set in Ancient Judea, Salomé portrays the tragic events surrounding its namesake princess and the dangers of desire. The beautiful Salomé finds herself constantly watched and coveted by her step-father, the Tetrarch Herod.
“Herod promises her anything she desires in exchange for her dancing for him”
However, despite resenting this constant gaze upon her, Salomé experiences her own sense of uncontrollable lust when she becomes infatuated with the Prophet Jokanna, who persistently renounces her. The princess continually rejects Herod’s advances until she seeks an opportunity to finally kiss Jokanna: Herod promises her anything she desires in exchange for her dancing for him. However, Salomé wishes for no diamond or adornment, her wish is far more debauched; the head of Jokanna. If he will not kiss her while he is alive, she will kiss him when he is dead.
This production of Oscar Wilde’s tragedy is emotive and intense, every aspect of its production is carefully crafted and executed. Excluding a few gold chairs, the set is bare but still feels regal and ornate: intricate and traditional murals outline the stage which is bordered with gold drapes.
“In the background is the moon, it shines bright white during the initial scenes of calm”
These drapes are plain but during Salomé’s confession of passion to Jokanna they become decorated with projections of hair and lips, effectively mirroring the speech and Salomé’s obsessions. In the background is the moon, it shines bright white during the initial scenes of calm but turns red upon Salomé’s gradual defiance and corruption, this is incredibly effective in mirroring the increasingly dramatic and devastating events on stage
Sound is used to similar effect in this production. Jokanna’s prophecies are delivered loudly and clearly through a speaker system, encompassing the entire stage and audience in his ominous foresight. Interestingly, during Salomé’s dance sequence a modern song is used as an accompaniment. However, this is not out of place but is incredibly fitting and compelling, this hint of modernity confirms the protagonist’s status as a woman who defies the female passivity of both her Ancient setting and Wilde’s Victorian audience.
“The title character was performed captivatingly by Maggie Dorling”
The cast were outstanding. During the opening moments some lines from the supporting cast were not delivered clearly but they soon warmed up. The title character was performed captivatingly by Maggie Dorling who portrayed Salomé’s gradual build up in emotions with integrity. Emily Sterling as Hesiod provided moments of humour. However, Francis Simmonds as Jokanna and Herod was exceptional and his portrayal of two such contrasting roles was impressive.
This is an intense and intelligent production that reflects both the tragedy and progressiveness of Wilde’s work.
All images courtesy of Nottingham New Theatre Official Facebook Page