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REVIEW: Salome

May 10, 2017 5:00 am0 commentsViews: 565

SALOMEkimdavidsmithby Steve Desroches

The Provincetown Theater is off to an impressive start this season with their lush and decadent production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome. Channeling the energy of the salaciousness Wilde so reveled in in his 1891 play, this production of Salome surprises with its design, direction, and casting in this bacchanalian tale of seduction and murder with reminders that the play created a stir with its depiction of a Biblical tale in which Wilde hid hints of homosexuality, feminine power, and hypersexuality.

Set at the wild 50th birthday party for King Herod, the evening reaches a fevered pitch when he asks his step-daughter Salome to perform the dance of the seven veils for him, much to the consternation of his wife and her mother Herodias. He promises Salome anything she wants in return, swearing a solemn oath. What Salome wants is the head of Jokanaan – John the Baptist – on a silver platter, a man who had resisted her sexual flirtations with a variety of insults to her virtue, which she uses to powerful effect.

First and foremost, the four principle actors in the production bring a crackling vigor to the performance working in precision to cloak themselves in subtle camp, but never releasing the audience from the tension of the narrative. Jo Brisbane as Herodias and James P. Byrne as Herod bring a fabulous Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe set in Judea veneer of a royal couple guzzling wine as their kingdom revels in depravity. As a duo, they bring a taut tension to their live-wire, high-wire characters. Runn Shayo as Jokanaan produces an intensity that reverberates long after he’s left the stage.  His character is fully realized with a piercing devotion that is the realm of zealots and madmen, the sensuality of prophets in real time.  And then there is Kim David Smith who is the metronome of this production.  The Australian neo-cabaret star sizzles, playing Salome as a gamine with an amorphous femininity.  Smith came to the Cape from Australia via New York City to star in Cabaret at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis last summer and the Afterglow Festival here in Provincetown. It is a major coup for the Provincetown Theater to land him for this production, especially alongside Shayo, Byrne, and Brisbane, who, along with the supporting cast, create a production worthy of this town’s rich theatrical heritage.

The set design by Tristan DiVincenzo, costumes by Carol Sherry and Amber Gong, and additional artistic directions from Lynn Buckson, Erica Giokas, Marianne Williams, and Ari and Tay, all help to provide the flesh and marrow to this juicy production. And Byrne, well known as a frequent director of Gold Dust Orphans’ productions, does double-duty by providing inventive and daring direction. The Provincetown Theater challenged itself with Salome in a way not often seen since it’s opening in 2004. For those frustrated by that over the years, Salome is an encouraging vision of  a new path as it takes the kind of risks audiences want, and expect, from theater in Provincetown. And it pays off marvelously.

Salome runs at the Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St., Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through May 20. For tickets ($38.50/$27.50 for seniors and students) and information, go to the box office, call 508.487.7487, or visit provincetowntheater.org.