By Oscar Wilde

Directed by Laurence Bryan

As part of the 3rd annual Naked July:

Art Stripped Down

At the National Pastime Theater, Chicago

Nudity dominates Wilde’s Salome

As part of their Naked July: Art Stripped Down festival, the National Pastime Theater has mounted Oscar Wilde’s 1892 stage version of the Biblical story of Salome. You know you’re at the Naked July festival when you enter the theatre space and the only thing you see is a naked man changed to a post! He is Lokanaan or John the Baptist (Joshua Harris) and he is a prisoner of Herod (David Bettino).

naked jluy festival - Salome

In Wilde’s wordy, biblical sounding prose, Salome becomes a tedious interruption of the story of  how Salome demands the head of Lokanaan in payment for her performing the dance of the seven veils.  After much talky overacting by both Joshua Harris’ Loksnaan and David Bettino’s Harod that dragged on seemingly forever, we finally see  Rebecca Wolfe perform the seductive Dance of the Seven Veils – which was a disappointment because Wolfe simply walk about the stage slowly removing her veils with only a few wiggles throw-in.  The spark only happens when Salome gets nude. But by that time we are ready for someone’s head. The play gets bogged down with Salome repeatedly demanding Lokanaan’s head with Herod refusing until finally he caves in and the head does roll.  The play whimpers to the end. What hurts this work was the amazingly inarticulate cast that mumbled and slurred their way toward butchering Wilde’s poetic language. I could hardly understand what was being said. The extreme overacting by the principal characters destroyed whatever was at stake here.  Better leave difficult shows like Salome to more classical trained actors.  Nude scenes can be found in many lesser works. The Dance of the Seven Veils wasn’t artistic nor sensual and it sure needs a choreographer.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: July 1, 2011

At the National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, for Naked July Festival info:, tickets $20, Salome runs 70 minutes without intermission, through August 6, 2011