'Salome' sets the bar

Santa Monica College's first theater production of this semester is a story of lust and greed.

"Salome," written by Oscar Wilde in 1891, originally in French, comes from a biblical story that uses symbolism to describe it.

The play shows a variety of characters obsessing over one another, starting off with the Young Syrian, played by Brandon Blum, who desires Salome, played by Jenny Gustavsson. The obsession continues with King Herod, who also desires Salome.

But she desires the prophet named Iokanaan, who was imprisoned in a pit for most of the play.

At the beginning of the production, the storyline was a little confusing and hard to follow. The play started off with the dancers and the puzzled expression of the Young Syrian, who only mentioned how beautiful Salome was before she was introduced.

Once Salome walked onstage, the Young Syrian's words became more clear. From then on, the storyline became easier to follow and more enjoyable.

The death of the Young Syrian came too quickly in the story. He was disappointed that Salome had no interest in him and stabbed himself to death.

Fortunately, the Page of Herodias, played by Mylo Lam, gave this tragic scene comic relief with humorous facial expressions and lines like, "something terrible is about to happen!"

As the play continued, it was apparent that the cast was well-rehearsed and ready for opening night.

Throughout some of the scenes, especially the ones that involved the characters raising their voices at one another, the energy onstage radiated throughout the theater. Their focus toward one another, and the actual volume of their voices, made it feel as if they were yelling at the audience.

One cast member that was worth noting was Clara Sao, the sign language performer, who was in the production to aid deaf attendees.

Throughout the entire play, Sao performed sign language and facial expressions to all of the characters' lines. Although she did not have a character name in the play, she acted as if she were one of them. Anticipating how she would react to the scenes became a necessity, even though she never muttered one word.

The message of "Salome" is that when there is power and royalty, greed takes over and people often end up making the wrong decisions, just like poor Salome did.

Overall, "Salome" was a well-performed play and a must-see for theater-goers.

"Salome" will be playing at SMC's Main Stage in the Theatre Arts Building through April 7.

To purchase tickets for "Salome" or to find out information about ticket pricing, showtimes and dates, visit smc.edu/AcademicPrograms/TheatreArts.