By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Like Beatrice, Salome is an actress for hire. Her what-her-heart-desires payment is John the Baptist's head on a silver platter, because he deigned to spurn her when she wanted to kiss his lips.
Wilde wrote the play shortly before he was imprisoned on charges of moral turpitude, so the consequences of illicit desire must have been on his mind. The play is in many ways Salome's tragedy of virgin love, that she'd kill what she can't possess rather than reconcile herself to a world that bestows its gratifications fleetingly. Robert Prior stages and costumes the 60-minute redux with visual acuity, with floating silks, body paint and some hunky casting underscoring the play's poetical eroticism.
And though, to his credit, he has not resorted to campiness, the production weaves in and out of a style that fits the tiny space. The language is so sprawling, calling for a grandiloquence that Prior serves up — resulting in fitful melodrama and a supporting cast who don't quite know how to handle watching an epic showdown between the tetrarch and the impish, snotty kid who got him so overheated.
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As that kid, Penaherrera is spot-on, sexy, relentlessly peevish and filled with "thoughtless follies that made her low and stained her name."
Douglas Rory Milliron and Ilford have a firm grip, respectively, as Puritan Prophet from Chippendales and the aging queen who'd love to have a piece of him, but, since she can't, is happy to see him decapitated. Ottoman's Herod has a reasoned, even halting restraint, which works nicely in juxtaposition against his stepdaughter's rabid fury.
Still, Prior, with his epic and broad-swathed imagination, is fighting the space, the walls that close in on the grandeur of his concept. This is a venue suited to the kind of gothic camp usually staged here. Prior's decision to take the play seriously deserves respect, for its integrity and its courage. Now he needs the space to let it fly.
OSCAR WILDE'S SALOME | By Oscar Wilde | Zombie Joe's Underground | 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd. | Sat., 8:30 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m. | Through July 17 | (818) 202-4120 | zombiejoes.com
BARRIE: BACK TO BACK | Rosalind and The Old Lady Shows Her Medals | By J.M. Barrie | Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice | Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 8 p.m. | Through Aug. 7 | (310) 822-8392 | pacificresidenttheatre.com