Little Ones Theatre's production of Salomé doesn't aspire to do anything but have a lot of fun and it's a hoot, referencing 80s pop, Rocky Horror and southern gospel in a camped-up drag-fest; you can't help but think Oscar would have been delighted.
The play is a bloody oriental/gothic biblical tale of murky sexuality, obsession, power and entitlement, building up with menace via repetitive language and images to a grotesque finale. The notion of destructive female sexuality has been gleefully queered up in Stephen Nicolazzo's version, with references to loins, swords, tongues and poison all given double meanings and lashings of jolly physical rudeness. The gender-bending works on the level of hilarity rather than subversion but one can never make the point too often that feminine and masuline personas are social constructs. We're seeing quite a bit of this sort of mashing up of blokes, sheilas and everything inbetween on stage lately; a good thing, too.
Salomé is all innuendo, double meaning and gay slapstick with Paul Blenheim playing Salomé as a posturing matador princess, a nice, light delivery when he could so easily have overdone it. Blenheim gives the murderous Princess of Brat a finesse and presence minus the tired persona of the cabaret diva style seductress. Salomé's matador dance is quite lovely. Dent's high-heeled fur coated drag queen character began to get on my nerves but then I hate drag. As the sleazy Herod, Alexandra Aldrich has a blast; she also has the most opportunity in terms of performance style. Her Herod morphing into a rock god is a witty turn with Dent as wind machine behind her – the funniest moment in the show. The petite Genevieve Giuffre is surprising as a mighty southern-gospel-preacher-inspired John the Baptist meets Gaga/Madonna – this conceit works brilliantly; she's a treat. Nick Pelomis' elegant, vengeful Herodias wryly observes the goings on with restraint. Peter Paltos plays a swarthy Jean Paul Gaultier perfume ad-inspired Syrian and Zoe Boesen creates a likeable energetically lovesick Page.
Salomé is funny, stylish and appealing. Nothing wrong with theatre being pure entertainment; a shared laugh is a good laugh.
Little Ones Theatre and Malthouse Theatre present
by Oscar Wilde
Director Stephen Nicolazzo
Venue: Tower Theatre | The Malthouse
Dates: 30 August - 14 September, 2013
Bookings: 03 9685 5111 | www.malthousetheatre.com.au
Part of the 2013 Helium Season