Tag Archives: Theatre Review

Review of ‘Salome’

A feminist interpretation of “Salome” opens the ENO’s woman-focused 18/19 season, directed by Adena Jacobs

It was thrilling to see the eighty-strong orchestra sitting in the pit. Unfortunately, that’s where, for me, the visual magic of the evening ended.

The erotic, murderous and decadent themes of Oscar Wilde’s 1891 play were sanitized and dislocated by a series of seemingly pointless gimmicks. Why was:

  • Jokanaan (John the Baptist) wearing pink stilettoes in his prison cell?
  • A giant pink, headless ‘My Little Pony’ hoisted up on the stage?
  • The dance of the seven veils reduced to a series of keep-fit postures?
  • Jokanaan’s severed head contained in a sealed white plastic bag?

The stage direction was sadly lacking in physicality throughout.

But ah… the music! The orchestra, under Martyn Brabbin’s assured direction, delivered an interpretation of Richard Strauss’s 1905 score that was both subtle and rich in flavor. It soared, it seduced and then, finally…it consumed.

Alison Cook’s Salome is a powerful and fatally flawed character possessed by ‘lodesliebe’ (death-love). This Salome is curiously unerotic, despite her stripping off and simulating masturbation early on in the show. Cook’s voice, though in tune, could not always match the emotional intensity of the music.

The relationship between Salome and her mother Herodia (a solid performance from Susan Bickley) is revealed as a love deeper than maternal. Their final duet (a highlight) climaxes in a passionate kiss.

The male characters came across as weak or impotent or vulnerable. David Soar was (unusually) vocally disappointing as Jokanaan – perhaps hampered by having a video camera strapped across his face, which displayed a close up of his mouth on the set’s backcloth? Michael Colvin’s Herod was a grotesque and almost comedic character.

But ah…the music! I walked home with it ringing in my ears, it haunted my dreams. It was thrilling!

This production of Salome though compromised by its direction, choreography and staging does not disappoint musically.  The orchestration is magnificent. Definitely worth a listen.

Until 23rdOct.  www.eno.org0207 845 9300

Review of Royal Court’s “Poet in da Corner”

A Tour de Force, by The Royal Court and the Represent programme. Which commission female orientated artworks exploring issues of democracy, inclusion and equality in contemporary Britain.

This is a show like no other. Crisp and Cathartic.  It’s a show where music, dance and spoken word collide.

Right from the start we are physically drawn into the drama by the rhythm of the music … supplied throughout by an on stage DJ.

Poet in da corner is essentially a coming of age story about Debris, a young, mixed race, Mormon-raised, bisexual.  She’s a loner whose trying to find her place at home, at school and in the world.

When Debris hears Dizzie Rascals seminal 2003 Grime Album ”Boy in the Corner” she has an epiphany, which enables her to feel confident about her own authenticity, to establish friendships and explore the potential of her life.

The poetry is fast paced, funny, hard…sometimes, heart-rending. Its poetry that sings and dances…powered by the driving rhythm of the music.

I particularly loved the scene where Debris experiences her first girl love. Which was tender, expressive and beautifully choreographed.

The ensemble cast, play a number of parts throughout, with relaxed ease. The choreography, being an integral part of each characterization.

It wasn’t just on stage that the dancing was happening. I went with Grime Pop Princess Toya Delazy and we, along with the rest of the audience, were dancing in our seats.

It runs until the 6thOctober.  I recommend you catch it if you can!

‘Hilda and Virginia’ Review

Hilda and Virginia Jermyn Theatre 01/03/2018

What a great little theatre Jermyn Street Theatre is. Tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus…it’s intimate and friendly with cutting edge programming.

“Hilda and Virginia” are two plays about two very different women,  written with a sure hand by accomplished playwright and poet Maureen Duffy.

These monologues explore the life and experiences of Hilda, a sixth century abbess, and Virginia Woolf, writer and founder member of the Bloomsbury set. Hilda and Virginia’s contrasting and fascinating lives are revealed through interesting facts, garlanded with poetic flair.

Monologues are always a challenge for the actor, and although I was not always convinced by her characterization I thought Sarah Crowden had a good stab at it.

Maureen Duffy devotees will not want to miss this literary treat and the Jermyn Street Theatre is definitely one to watch!