The play, the opera, the reading and now “Salome” the one-woman show. French actress Guandaline Sagliocco has taken her one-hander, adapted from Oscar Wilde’s play, to several arts festivals since its debut in 1990. Now it is part of this year’s eighth annual New Haven Intl. Festival of Arts & Ideas. Unfortunately, the childlike rendering doesn’t have much of an impact.
Sagliocco has edited the play, cut a number of characters and uses some colloquialisms (“OK”). She performs all five of the remaining roles — Salome, Herod, Herodias, soldier-guard Narraboth and Narraboth’s little soldier colleague. Sagliocco’s a small woman with a round, girlish face and a girlish voice, and her performance suggests that all of the characters are actually being performed by teenage Salome herself. This gives the play an innocence that emphasizes the horror of a child asking for the head of a man and then being killed because of her naughty desires.
But there are no great heaving emotions here. It may be that this “Salome” is intended to be a piece of children’s theater, a brief glimpse of bare breasts notwithstanding. It was, we are told, the first play to receive an award from Norway’s Intl. Assn. of Theater for Children and Young People.
Sagliocco does not seem to be an actress of any great range, which may explain the naive, unpretentious approach. Wisely, she doesn’t attempt to do a dance of the seven veils. Instead, accompanied by Guttorm Guttormsen’s insistently rhythmic recorded music, she simply plays the role of Herod gazing raptly as we, the audience, imagine the dance.
The climax of the play is Salome’s declarations of love before the impaled head of John the Baptist (whose voice, prior to this, has been represented by deep subterranean echoing), during which she briefly bares her breasts and legs. The performance ends with Salome whirling around like the child she is as the lights dim to black and Herod orders her death.
The set is simply a rear scrim on which is projected suggestions of filmy clouds and a multicolored moon. There are just three props: a soldier’s spear, a throne for Herod and John the Baptist’s severed head impaled on a spike. All of the production’s technical aspects are excellent, as is Guttormsen’s score.