theSpace @ Surgeons Hall – Theatre 2
Drawing from her practice as a professor of psychology, Ana Mozol reminisces about the failings of a damaging romantic experience. She first met her former partner Nicholas in a dance hall and, after sharing a bachata, it was fireworks straight away. Six months of deliberate sex deprivation and a few lies later, marriage was indeed on the cards. “Why???” – I want to shout at her. No details are spared as we are taken through the rise and fall of their relationship.
This very personal account is interspersed with the analysis of Salomé as portrayed by Oscar Wilde in the homonymous play. The two stories run in parallel, with switches clearly indicated by lighting cues. Although, in order to slot together, the two sides of the narrative require some interpretation on our part. Salomé is as toxic as Nicholas was, and Herod as much of a victim as Ana herself. At the same time, it is hard to ignore that both Herod and Ana made poor choices which went against common sense. Ana knew at first sight that Nicholas was toxic, and Herod had reasons to believe that Salomé wasn’t trustworthy.
Both stories might have been oversimplified due to time constraints but, in their current form, carry too much emotional dead weight without ultimately leading to a conclusion. The message is also made more cryptic by an overly literary use of the language that burdens the framework of this theatre piece. Its wordiness means that everything is told (albeit beautifully) but nothing is shown, drowning the magic of theatre in an ocean of words.
A large white veil is the only prop used on stage, mainly for the impersonations of Salomé. Despite a number of scenes set in the dance hall, music is used sparsely and its volume always kept to a minimum. The measured nature of this one hander, as well as the plain elocution of the performer, could be mistaken for lack of character. We struggle to engage with a show to which Ana herself doesn’t seem to commit entirely.
Written by: Ana Mozol
Directed by: David MacMurray Smith
Dramaturg by: TJ Dawe
Produced by: Dreamwork Theatre Inc.
Unveiled plays at EdFringe 2023 until 26 August, 8:10pm at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall. Further information and bookings here.