★★★★| Salomé, National Theatre, London

Johan Persson

It was always going to be hard to produce a version of Salomé on the stage. It’s a story that’s mythical, biblical, violent, and perhaps a bit confusing. A new version of the show is now playing at The National Theatre, and it’s executed beautifully.

Staged by Director Yael Farber, this version of Salomé, at a short 110 minutes with no interval, will mesmerize you but may also confuse you as the story is told through song and dance and imagery and hebrew, and lots of sand and water. But it’s the story of Salomé who was born the daughter of Herodia who was a princess of the Herodian Dynasty of Judea during the time of the Roman Empire. Salomé, as you may or may not know, is infamous for receiving the head of John the Baptist. Played in this show by Isabella Nefar, Salome is not very respected, stands naked on the stage, has sand thrown all over her, but it’s at the end that she’s redeemed and resurrected, but the road to get there is an intense one.

A character by the name of Nameless (Olwen Fouéré) tells the story of Salomé, as Salomé the character doesn’t speak, and takes place in Roman occupied Judea. She’s yelled at and ridiculed by her stepfather Herod (Paul Chahidi), but finds something, perhaps a kindred spirit, in Iokanaan – John the Baptist (Ramzi Choukair).

But it’s not just the story, it’s the design of the show, by Susan Hilferty, that takes us on a journey, or perhaps better worded – on a ride – a ride that’s both luminous and heavenly, with lighting that adds mystery and darkness. It’s also the haunting vocals and chanting of Israeli folk musician Yasmin Levy and Syrian soprano Lubana Al Quntar that will take your breathe away. Their vocals that accompany the story told on stage is the most memorable part of the show – their voices are out of this world, and listening to them is well worth the price of the ticket.

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Salomé will be broadcast by NT Live on Thursday 22 June 2017. For further details visit NTLive.com

Below is a list of connected talks and events for Salomé:
Acts of Violence and Salomé, Monday 12 June, Cottesloe Room, 2-5pm
Mothers/Daughters/Sisters, Wednesday 21 June, Cottesloe Room, 6-7pm
Yaël Farber, Friday 14 July, Olivier Theatre, 6-6.45pm

To buy tickets, please go here:
https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk