How Beautiful Is the Princess Salome Tonight | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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How Beautiful Is the Princess Salome Tonight


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Imagine performance art framed and lit so beautifully that one thinks of Hitchcock's best work. In How Beautiful Is the Princess Salome Tonight, an ongoing collaboration between Argentinean artist Claudia Vera and South African choreographer-performance artist Robyn Orlin, every nuance of light, gesture, sound, and prop has been planned and perfected. Even the piece's most quotidian act, that of setting a table, seems fraught with danger: a hanging animal carcass conjures a deceased lover, and the turning off of an electric fan seems loathsome. In this expanded version of a performance shown at Randolph Street Gallery earlier this fall, Orlin will play Princess Salome, who ordered the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter in exchange for her dance of the seven veils. Performance artists Ken Thompson and Ames Hall will represent various masculine voices, John the Baptist as everyman and Oscar Wilde as a sacrificial lamb. Orlin as Salome dances through the space perversely seducing not the audience but a ghost somewhere out of sight, while Hall and Thompson weave ingeniously in and out of her dance. In the work's telling of both Oscar Wilde's fall from grace and Salome's story the artists boldly confront and explore issues of sacrifice, feminine and masculine role models, and loss and resignation--especially poignant in this age of AIDS, homophobia, and feminist backlash. Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 281-0824. December 11 through 13: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $7.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/courtesy Randolph Street Gallery.

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