David Milch, Artistic Director * Naomi Barr, Artistic Associate
A Sexual Reduction of Oscar Wilde’s SALOMÉ
Club Rare, April 30 – May 22, 2004
Adapted and Directed by DAVID MILCH
Choreographed by ELIZABETH HASELWOOD
Lighting Design BOBBY HARRELL
Illusions MIYAKE SEO
Costume Design COURTNEY WAGNER
Sound Editing RICK FERNANDEZ
Dramaturge/Assistant Director MAGGIE NEUWALD
Stunt Coordination & Fight Direction FIGHT BUILDERS with ALBERTO BONILLA
Stage Manager TAMARA LADD
Press Representative SPIN CYCLE
The Young Syrian – Nick Newell
The Page of Herodias – Jenny Weaver
Soldier 1 – Nancy Jacobs
Soldier 2 – Courtney Wagner
Jokanaan, The Prophet – Alberto Bonilla
Salomé, Princess of Judea – Ilka Pinhiero
Salomettes, the Princess’ Slaves – Jessica Grant, Leia Thompson
Herod, Tetrarch of Judea – Eric Walton
Herodias, Wife of the Tetrarch – Drucilla O’Brien
The general gist of this "sexual reduction" goes a little something like this…
Pop Legend Line-Up
Prince – Salome, Rob Halford – Herod
Freddie Mercury – Jokanaan, Deborah Harry – Herodias
Ian Curtis – Young Syrian, Robert Smith – Page of Herodias
Club Rare – Herod’s Palace
GIVING/GETTING HEAD, adapted by David Milch
SALOMÉ, written by Oscar Wilde
In an imaginative reinvention of Oscar Wilde’s tragic SALOMÉ, Relatively Theater’s David H. Milch presents the dance club diva meets fetishist GIVING/GETTING HEAD. A site specific event, surely more gimmick than glorious, this one is best described as costumed Karaoke with a design team.
Crooning along with some of the better known singles by the bands Joy Division, Blondie, Queen, The Cure, Judas Priest and Prince, the performers intermittently speak Wilde’s words whilst waiting for the next site gag or virtual rock and roll moment. That the main actors are clad as the pop icons they mimic only adds to the humor, even when it is black.
The main flaw in GIVING/GETTING HEAD is that some of the best acting is performed by cast members not especially adept at singing, and vice versa. Further, one of the best vocalists, Nick Newell, barely gets a few lines in before performing an Ian Curtis inspired epileptic performance of "Love Will Tear Us Apart," followed by a virtual suicide. Until the very end of the show, he hangs in the corner, a discarded corpse. In contrast, Eric Walton, clad in the leather queen garb donned by Rob Halpern speaks Wilde’s dialogue eloquently, but is all but inaudible when doing his best to impress with Judas Priest covers.
In terms of the larger picture of GIVING/GETTING HEAD, the cast is seemingly inspired by their alter egos. Jenny Walton is melancholy and addicted as Robert Smith/The Page. Drucilla O’Brien’s Debby Harry/Herodias is thoroughly appalled, and vengeful too. Ilka Pinhiero’s Princely Princess Salomé is angry, sexy glam, but it is her nemesis, Freddie Mercury/Jokanaan, comically played by Alberto Bonilla, that takes the prize for the best use of both accompanied vocals and head placement.
Cute, kitschy, and intending to be tons of fun, Relatively Theater’s GIVING/GETTING HEAD is full of 1980’s pop sensibilities, fashion, and most of all music. An auditory blast from the past, as theater, this production is likely to be best appreciated by the appropriate site specific audience.
- Kessa De Santis -