Please excuse the awful pun but I dragged the Scottish one to the theatre for the first time in many years, certainly for the first time in our acquaintanceship, and I think it might take us both a while to get over the experience. The chosen play was Salome, I have a soft spot for Wilde and when I saw this was in town I wanted to go to it. The posters I might add where seductive, and as I missed the ballet version of Dorian Grey earlier in the year I was determined to see this.
I like the theatre, generally in quite an unsophisticated ‘entertain me please’ sort of way. I can handle a bit of symbolism and have no particular problem with a modern dress version of pretty much anything (though I prefer some proper dressing up if I’m given the choice), ‘contemporary’ doesn’t put me off, but sometimes I have to wonder why. In this case it was over the beer I felt compelled to feed the Scottish one to make up for a show that really wasn’t his thing.
So now I’m going to ask am I wrong to think that Wilde is about the language and manners and a certain amount of subtlety? Twentieth century decadence was the tag line, which in this case meant a set composed of mud and gravel with a Middle Eastern militaristic aesthetic and almost constant groping and furtling on the part of the cast. Which might have worked if Salome had not been interpreted as a petulant adolescent, the words suggest a young women confident in her sexuality, but in this case the actions were of a girl without any real sense of her desires or desirability. At least the last ten minutes were as chilling as could be hoped for, and the thing is I had one of the best evenings out in Leicester for a long time.
This is what I love about live theatre, a couple of hours in the pub pulling the play to pieces (because clearly being such an expert and all I could do a much better job) is easily as satisfying as watching the most polished and sympathetic performance. It’s been timely because I’m missing the country life at the moment and one of the great compensations of living in a city – even a fairly provincial one – is the chance to engage with this sort of thing (and to have a choice of beer venues at the end of it). On the other hand it might be another three years before I get the Scottish one in a theatre again...