avanim play 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Evil leaches through every arresting minute of Yuval Zamir’s engrossing Salomé.
Even the setting, by Zamir and Uzi Amrani, not forgetting Maor Tzabar’s sleazy
The Biblical story of Salome (Yoav Amir), her
unwilling dance before Herod (Ronen Yifrach), her demand for the head of John
the Baptist (Ezer Kalmovitz) to her mother Herodias’s (Na’ama Amit) purring
approval is set beneath the pitiless glare of neon lights in a tawdry public
bathhouse. Rather than a cistern, the Baptist is held in the sewers beneath the
The royal couple’s thrones are toilets.
The language of
is Wilde at his most
lushly extravagant, its sumptuous, sultry phrasing
serving only to heighten the depravity, and Zamir’s translation serves
Salome has been depicted as a vampire – the play endlessly compares
her to the pale moon – a man-hating predator, a deliberate destroyer,
Zamir’s Salome is a genderconfused boy – brought up as a girl by
his mother literally to save his life from Herod – who is revealed as
only when he strips after the dance. The malleability of gender drives
production no less than its political stance. To the strains of the US
anthem, Herod speaks of the favors that omnipotent “Caesar” heaps on
Baptist is clothed entirely in – and hides behind – prayer-shawls; one
wraps his severed head. Fear and uncertainty rule. The inference is that
are deliberately marching towards the cliff edge.
The eight-member cast
is uniformly excellent.
Onstage the entire time, even with little to say,
Zohar Sabag and Eyal Kentov as soldiers and Ruti Assrassayi as the page
for an instant lose focus. They are there, they watch, they respond. Avi
fatuous Syrian Captain properly evokes pity, but not compassion.
Salome, Yoav Amir presents a child betrayed, brought up without a moral
whom events utterly derange – and he does it very well. Na’ama Amit’s
opportunistic, always-watchful Herodias adds tension, and to cap all,
Yifrach’s utterly chilling Herod is a suave stonekiller for whom there’s
thing as a moral universe.
This is not an easy play to watch but very
well worth the effort.