Salome post-show talk at Southwark Playhouse. © Peter Jones
Salome post-show talk at Southwark Playhouse. © Peter Jones

How far are you willing to go to get what you most desire? That’s the question at the bloody heart of Salome. And it’s a question that so fascinates Lazarus Theatre that they’re now having a third go at Oscar Wilde’s provocative 1891 tragedy based on the Biblical tale.

The second, acclaimed iteration was at Greenwich Theatre in 2019, when I also chaired a post-show Q&A. And, just two years on, it’s amazing just how different a production can be, with the company responding to the possibilities presented by the adaptable 100-seat Little at Southwark Playhouse versus the comparatively cavernous 421-seat hall at Greenwich Theatre.

As a result, artistic director Ricky Dukes, who has re-adapted and re-directed, has taken several big chops – bringing the previous cast of nine down to six, ditching the interval, losing 30-odd minutes of performance and plonking all of the action onto a traverse staging divided by a long catwalk-style dining table.

There’s also a radically different, Fantasia-themed approach to minxy Salome’s dance of the seven veils.

I discussed all of that, and the challenges of ‘running the marathon’ of putting on a classical text after 18 months of ‘no training’ care of lockdown, with members of the cast – Jamie O’Neill (who, as King Herod, is the sole company member reprising his 2019 performance), Fred Thomas (Salome), Pauline Babula (Herodias), George Ray-Turner (Guard) and Omi Mantri (Young soldier) – as well as Ricky Dukes.

To add an extra 2021 flavour to proceedings, Ricky dialled in from home, after coming down with a cold (he’s tested negative for Covid, but isn’t taking any chances).

Salome continues at London’s Southwark Playhouse until 11 September 2021.

Q&A video

Q&A photos

On the panel, from left to right when all seated: adapter/director Ricky Dukes (on screen), actors George Ray-Tuner, Fred Thomas, Jamie O’Neill, Pauline Babula and Omi Mantri, and me, Terri Paddock. Event photography by Peter Jones.

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