Aestheticism, a movement mastheaded by Oscar Wilde, stipulates that ‘Truth’ should never be striven for; Truth lies in acknowledging artifice and admiring its beauty – art for art’s sake. However, in spite of this Fourth Monkey’s production of Sans Salomé just feels fake. Following their acclaimed run at last year’s Fringe, the gifted youth theatre company return with three further offerings. In their first, Sans Salomé parallels the rehearsals for the original staging of Wilde’s biblical classic with a tumultuous, modern-day lesbian relationship.
As always, the direction is impressive; to have a cast of this size on a stage that small and without looking clumsy is some feat. The acting is also consistently good, yet the overall work is simply vapid. Pretentiousness is an easy pejorative to hide behind when something isn’t understood, but (and this isn’t a double bluff) it really does appear that way. The homosexual relationships are performed with the faux “I don’t care if you find this offensive” attitude (don’t worry, it’s not). Moreover, none of the characters are particularly likeable – not even Wilde. All of this amounts to a performance of technical skill but no real brilliance. Artifice is one thing, hollow posturing another.