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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Theater Review: Salome

By Jonathan Weichsel

Salome, presented by the Archway Theater company, is an abridged version of Oscar Wilde's play that cuts out all but the historically important, that is to say controversial elements.  One the one hand, this works in the plays favor, making it a leaner and meaner piece, but on the other hand, I can't help but think the production would have benefited from a little more character development. 

I don't have the cast list in front of me and can't find it online, however the actor who plays Herod is spot on. He perfectly captures Herod's larger than life persona, as well as his complexity and the moral turmoil he goes through. Herod is of course a commanding figure, and the actor plays the role of ruler with zeal and relish. 

The actress who plays Salome is serviceable, but at times fails to capture the complexity of the character. The actress plays Salome big, and Salome is certainly a big presence, but she is also much more. When Salome first sees Jokaanan (John the Baptist,) she gives a speech that should be filled with a conflicting sense of self-discovery and sexual awakening coupled with a revulsion of her own feelings projected onto the object of her desire, but instead it comes across as a one-note piece. However, the Dance of the Seven Veils was done with a certain fire, and the actress seems to finally grasp her role when Salome asks for Jokaanan's head. 

Unfortunately, some of the minor actors were amateurish to the point of distraction. For example, the actress playing a court page was unable to pour a glass of wine without spilling some onto the stage.     

That being said, it is rare to find a production of Salome and this one at least captures the spirit that has made the play one of the most controversial ever written. 

For more information and tickets visit Archway Theater Company's official site.

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