The expansive and theatrical imagination that Wilde brings to his telling of the story allows here for other layers to be added. All the people in the play respond to premonitions and omens. The music and the soundscape assist the action by creating a subliminal subtext.
The essence of the play is the triangular struggle between John the Baptist, Herod and Salome. Herod struggles with the conflict between his obsession with Salome and his superstitious fear and apprehension regarding John the Baptist and the new religion he preaches. John the Baptist holds to his unwavering commitment to God and the new Christ and Salome is overwhelmed by desire for sensual gratification at all costs. All these struggles spill over at the court of Herod and Herodias. The celebration of Herod’s Feast Day becomes the battleground for the violent outcome where all the tensions of the protagonists finally explode and shatter.
The all-pervasive presence of the dance flows over the work. All move in a dreamlike or ritualistic manner. Physical tensions are first expressed in the body. The dance holds all in its grip, and, in a play renowned for the central theme of Herod’s continual plea ‘Dance for me, Salome’, it is fitting that the dance and strong movement structures should hold a powerful position in the stage arena.
‘Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against John the Baptist and would have killed him but she could not. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him……’ (New Testament, Mark 6 Verses 19 & 20)
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