Simta takes a walk on the Wilde side

Describing his take on Oscar Wilde's eerie, savage 'Salome,' director Yuval Zamir crackles with enthusiasm, throwing out the ideas behind his passionately felt interpretation like kernels of corn popping on the fire.

Theaterthumb (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
"We're a rotten, decadent society that has divested itself of values," he says. We welter "in corruption, cynicism, violence. Without ideals, with nothing to aspire to, we push the envelope further and further in order to feel alive." Salome is set at Herod's court in Palestine, now a Roman province where the king rules at Caesar's pleasure. He has had John the Baptist imprisoned for sedition. He lusts after the beautiful Princess Salome, who herself lusts after John, who rejects her. When Herod promises her anything if she will but dance for him she demands the head of John the Baptist on a silver salver. Horrified, he tries to renege, but Salome is adamant. The head is brought. She croons to it and finally kisses the dead lips that refused hers. Revolted, terrified, Herod orders his soldiers to kill Salome. Zamir, actor, singer and artistic consultant to the Simta theater, has cut the play extensively, and excised characters in order "to reduce Salome to its essence," that of a society that must dissemble, that has delivered its fate into another's hands - and Zamir sees the US as our Caesar - a society in which "everybody is afraid of everybody else, where superstition is rife and ideologies flourish." Salome opens at the Simta in Old Jaffa on September 13.