RSC to take on Wilde’s controversial Salomé

Director Owen Horsley
Director Owen Horsley

An Oscar Wilde play which was originally banned in Britain takes to the stage in a new production by the RSC in Stratford this week.

The lyrical one-act play Salomé is set during the reign of Tiberius, and is being staged to mark 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.

Salomé is Herod’s stepdaughter, and, as seen by Wilde, is a powerful and enigmatic figure, both erotic and chaste. The prophet, Iokanaan rejects Salomé’s sexual advances, and when she is compelled to dance by Herod, Salomé is filled by lust-driven revenge and demands Iokanaan’s head as payment.

This new production, directed by Owen Horsley, explores sexual ambiguity in the contemporary world.

Horsley said: “Salomé is Oscar Wilde’s most controversial play, and Salomé as a figure continues to fascinate and provoke audiences to this day.

“This production will paint the play afresh by casting a male actor - Matthew Tennyson - in the title role, a part that is usually played by a female actor. This portrayal will explore the ambiguity of gender and sexuality, and the anger, anxiety, mystery and chaos it can cause in the world.

“Using the music of Perfume Genius, a musician who explores the dangers faced by gay men in contemporary society, the iconic dance of Salomé will be filled with a brute force that reinforces her symbolic status of undying desire.”

The play runs at the Swan Theatre from Friday June 2 to Wednesday September 6.

Call 01789 403493 or visit www.rsc.org.uk to book or for more information.