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Salome review at Hoxton Hall, London – ‘flamboyantly theatrical’

Salome at Hoxton Hall, London
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In its day, Oscar Wilde’s one-act play Salome was banned, ostensibly because religious characters were not allowed to be portrayed on stage. Of course, nothing piques the public’s interest more than censure and his poetic tragedy is a masterpiece of the carnal versus the spiritual. Theatre Lab’s production not only focuses on the high drama of the story, but also on the metaphors that punctuate Wilde’s narrative.

Director Anastasia Revi moves the action to the decadence of the 1930s, suggesting a gangster Herod with Herodias as his aging moll. However it’s not the period that defines Revi’s work here so much as her richly theatrical interpretation. Salome’s journey from wilful child to vengeful seductress plays out as a hauntingly choreographed piece of intense physical theatre and Herod and his servant develop a comedy double-act  of sorts, as they attempt to welsh on the deal.

When Denise Moreno as Salome switches from white tutu to scarlet basque for the infamous Dance of the Seven Veils, she is shockingly seductive. Moreno’s performance borders on maniacal in much the same way as Matthew Wade’s Iokannan and it’s this clash of extremes that frames the play. Konstantinos Kavakiotis’ steely performance captures the excess and anguish of Herod’s dilemma and Tobias Deacon brings an unexpected lightness to the role of major domo.

International company Theatre Lab has revisited Salome several times since 2012 both in the UK and overseas. The combination of intimacy and grandeur afforded by the newly refurbished Hoxton Hall seems like a perfect fit for such a visually and physically flamboyant production.

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Flamboyantly theatrical treatment of a masterpiece in the art of excess