Review: Salome (Right Brain Project)

| March 23, 2014
Charlesanne Radensburg, Maximillian Lapine and Shantelle Szyper star in Right Brain Project's "Salome" by Oscar Wilde, directed by Nathan Robbel. (photo credit: Joseph Ramski)        
      
Salome

Written by Oscar Wilde  
Directed by Nathan Robbel  
at RBP Rorschach, 4001 N. Ravenswood (map)
thru April 12  |  tickets: $15-$20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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Head out to see this stylized classic

     

Charlesanne Radensburg, Maximillian Lapine and Shantelle Szyper in Right Brain Project's "Salome" by Oscar Wilde, directed by Nathan Robbel. (photo credit: Joseph Ramski)

    
The Right Brain Project presents
    
Salome

Review by Keith Glab

The Right Brain Project tackles one of Oscar Wilde’s most celebrated plays to launch their 2014 season. In Salome, Wilde re-interprets the famed biblical tale of the princess who entices King Herod with her dance of the seven veils in order to orchestrate the execution of John the Baptist.

After marrying his brother’s wife Herodias (Charlesanne Radensburg), Herod (Maximillian Lapine) lusts after Salome (Shantelle Szyper), Herodias’ daughter from that previous marriage. Meanwhile, Salome falls in love with Iokanaan (Greg Wenz), the prophet better known as John the Baptist, who has been imprisoned. Iokanaan rebuffs Salome’s advances, an act she had never before experienced. So when Herod grants Salome one wish in exchange for her sensual dance of the seven veils, that wish is Iokanaan’s head on a platter.

Maximillian Lapine and Shantelle Szyper in Right Brain Project's "Salome" by Oscar Wilde, directed by Nathan Robbel. (photo credit: Joseph Ramski)

The action extends to 90 minutes through much dialogue repetition and stylized movement. The cast handles the choreography as well as they do Wilde’s poetic language, giving the production a polished feel. Most of the stylized elements get realized well, such as rose petals used for blood, a tunnel of light denoting Iokanaan’s passage from imprisonment, and a trippy sound track. The severed head is a masterpiece in its simplicity. Others work less successfully, such as the needless anthropomorphization of the Moon (Charlotte Long) or the inconsistent costuming that blends modern, archaic, and shirtless.

Another inconsistency exists in a tone that too often becomes flippant in such a serious and tragic piece. This is predominately seen in exchanges between Herod and Herodias, in which we sometimes believe we’re watching a TV sitcom rather than a symbolist play. The excessively large cast of fifteen overwhelms such a small theatre space and compromises sightlines. This isn’t the first time The Right Brain Project has overfilled a cast, so perhaps that’s why artistic director Nathan Robbel is able to avoid some of the inevitable clutter with clever staging.

Even when some elements don’t quite work, the top-notch performances are usually able to compensate. Lapine and Radensburg have such enormous stage presence that they can get away with the sometimes flippant tone, adding enough gravitas to what they say to let us know to take the play seriously. Szyper is phenomenal as the titular character. Wilde wrote Salome as an abnormally strong female character for a play written in the 19th century, but Szyper takes it even further in a mesmerizingly layered performance. Her dance is appropriately seductive-yet-elegant, as realized by a good portion of the ensemble and production team.

Ever-willing to take risks, The Right Brain Project once again hits more often than it misses in bringing a script to life. Head out to see this stylized classic unfold practically in your lap.

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

Salome continues through April 12th at RBP Rorschach, 4001 N. Ravenswood (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm.  Tickets are $15-$20, and can be obtained by sending an email to tickets@TheRBP.org.  More information at TheRBP.org(Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes, no intermission)

Right Brain Project presents "Salome" by Oscar Wilde, directed by Nathan Robbel. (photo credit: Joseph Ramski)

Photos by Joseph Ramski 


     

artists

cast

Chris Acevedo (Soldier), Jonathan Beal (The Young Syrian), Dean Beever (Jew), Adam Betz (Soldier), Patrick Doolin (Tigellinus), John Dwyer (The Page of Herodias), Elizabeth Goodson (The Slave of Salome), Todd Herman (Cappadocian), Maximillian Lapine (Herod), Charlotte Long (The Moon), Charlesanne Radensburg (Herodias), Shantelle Szyper (Salome), Sarah Thompson (Nazarene), Greg Wenz (Iokanaan), Tiffany Williams (Sadducee)

behind the scenes

Nathan Robbel (director), Charlesanne Radensburg (movement director, choreographer), Trevor Patrick Watkin (music director, composer), Krista Reeves (stage manager), Julia Grey (asst. stage manager), Megan Merrill  (costume design), Rush Marler (co-set design, asst. director), Mikah Berky (co-set design), Ivy Reid (lighting design), Joseph Ramski (photos)

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Category: 2014 Reviews, Keith Glab, Oscar Wilde, RBP Rorschach, Right Brain Project

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