Oscar Wilde’s Salomé provides theatrical opportunities for an imaginative directorby Michael Coveney / May 17, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Swan, Stratford-upon-Avon, 2nd June to 6th September
Oscar Wilde’s moonstruck idyll of sensuous delights, in which Herod’s step-daughter asks for the head of John the Baptist, is best known as the basis of Richard Strauss’s great opera. Still, there are theatrical opportunities for an imaginative director, even if Owen Horsley starts at a disadvantage by casting a male actor (Matthew Tennyson) as the lead. (Lindsay Kemp played Salomé across genders 40 years ago.) But Tennyson’s a fine actor. Music is by Seattle-based songwriter Perfume Genius.
The Other Place, 30th May to 8th July
Federico Fellini’s Oscar-winning 1954 movie aspired to the condition of a colourful, heart-rending musical. In La Strada, an innocent waif is sold by her impoverished mother to the brutal strongman of a travelling sideshow. Director Sally Cookson and composer Benji Bower’s new stage version hopes to live up to the film. Their most recent productions, Jane Eyre for the Bristol Old Vic and Hetty Feather in the West End, were acclaimed. Have they now hit on a musical subject Andrew Lloyd Webber might envy?
HOME, Manchester, 25th May to 10th June
Janet Suzman, above, makes her first stage appearance for seven years in a revival of Martin Sherman’s one-woman play. It was first seen at the National Theatre in 1999 with Olympia Dukakis as Rose, a fiercely independent survivor of the Warsaw ghetto, whose son has settled in Israel with a convert to Judaism. The play once fuelled a debate about the Occupied Territories; today, it might talk to the refugee crisis, xenophobia and resurgent nationalism.