ntang (ntang) wrote,


I went to see Salome: The Reading last night with a friend.

For those of you that don't know, Salome: The Reading is a somewhat artificially staged production of Oscar Wilde's Salome, starring Al Pacino, Marisa Tomei, Dianne Wiest, and other less famous screen and stage actors. It's gotten a lot of press because it's got some (obviously) big-name stars, and not only that but it's closing on the 12th (i.e. tomorrow) and so this is the "last chance to see it!".

Anyways, the entire thing is staged as a reading - all of the actors have the script in hand (or on a music stand) and often seem to make a pretense of reading from it. They obviously don't need it or particularly use it, though, so it's a bit disconcerting when they're all there acting and suddenly they all lean over and turn their pages in unison.

The actors are all wearing street clothes, and there's essentially no set, just chairs - and in several cases, they're folding chairs (presumably to make it easier to move them when they do, and also to add to the feel of a reading). There are a few lighting effects, including a fairly plain sheet hanging down as a backdrop which they project different colored lights onto during the production to help set the mood - and a few people playing music to again, help set the mood.

So basically what you have is this extreme conceit of staging a "reading", but it's just that - a conceit. There's no "added value", either artistically or otherwise, to having them out there with the scripts, and to dressing in street clothes, and to so many choices they made.

The actors all overact in a fairly annoying manner, which was again, unfortunate - I know stage acting tends to be a bit "more" than screen acting because you're acting to people who don't get closeups and shots from the right direction and it needs to be apparent to everyone, even the people way up in the balcony, but this went a bit over the top - and it went over the top in every single case, which leads me to believe that it was less a case of these famous actors being secretly bad actors but simply being told/encouraged/whatever to overact by the director.

Another thing that annoyed me was just that several times the audience spontaneously started clapping - when Pacino walked out on stage, during a few other times - and I understand it, I guess, but they're clapping right over lines and such. Fucking stop it, he's just a damn actor, put your hands down and let me watch the play!

So anyways, to get to the point, the production was fun but disappointing. The actors all showed moments of brilliance, but they came between long periods of extreme ham and cheese (and while those are great on a sandwich, I can do without in a Broadway production). Wilde's work often (always!?) lends itself to humor and dry wit, but those things are generally meant to be under played, not over (or at least not to the extent that these actors took it). Still, I have to say, Pacino can really rage it up but good - the few times when he's just standing and showing his fury and his voice is booming, that was a sight to behold. Marisa Tomei's performance was decent but very unpredictable, and not entirely in a good way. She did take her top off during the dance of the seven veils, though, and I found myself wishing we had better seats at that point. :P

Anyways. If it wasn't too late to get tickets I'd recommend that anyone that's a fan of those actors consider checking it out, since it was interesting if not brilliant, but if you were or mourning your lost opportunity, I wouldn't sweat it so much - it's just not that good.

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