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Oscar Wilde's Salome

Dates 17 – 28 May 2006, 8.00 pm (No performance 23 May) Venue Russian Hall, 600 Campbell Avenue, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Lois Anderson as Salome

Boy, what a freaky show! Entertaining, though. This group should be called "freaky" instead of "leaky." It was a three-ring circus indeed.

Using Wilde's Salome as its jumping board, this circus group of actors, acrobats, strip dancers and everything chaotic in human existence pulled through a difficult script (in Wilde's Elizabethan English) to come up with a cabaret of Felliniesque characters dancing, roaming about the Russian hall, talking to audience members who sat on dinner theatre type tables, standing on tables, and doing waitering services.

If theatre is there to entertain, well, this group succeeded in entertaining (although in grotesque ways) an audience of almost a hundred in this seedy-looking hall in East Vancouver. Their motto: "...the magic of community, friendship, anarchy, art and chaos." Anarchy and chaos indeed, but they pulled it off.

In those long arias and speeches of Herod, a grotesque servant with artificial boobs as big as watermelons would do lewd movements onstage, as in a strip bar. Meanwhile, men dressed in S & M outfits would shout at Herod from another corner of the hall and talk to him about the Messiah. John the Baptist would thenb arise from his dungeon like the resurrected Christ as he shouts "Repent, the end is near!" And Salome doesn't do her striptease herself but instead is stripped by her freaky servants for her 7-veil dance. As she stands naked in front of Herod, her servants cover her private parts with their hands.

In another scene, like models walking down a makeshift ramp in the middle of the hall, actors are naked with their backs to the audience, and do the reverse role of a stripper: they begin unstripping, picking up their clothes and putting them on one by one.

Cabaret-style, a musician plays his piano and sings as actors go about doing their tasks of chatting with the audience, while in another part of the hall, Herod and Herodias argue about Salome.

Never a dull moment in this show. Director Steven Hill manages to put chaos in order with the help of Wilde's excellent script, purposely profaned. In the end, Salome flees from the mob running on one one of those stationary fitness exercise machines, bringing with her John the Baptist's head on a silver platter. Blackout. Audience doesn't know what to do. Then, someone claps, and others follow. The End.

2006 Ed Farolan