Stuffed Puppet Theatre, Salomé

Review in Issue 10-4 | Winter 1998

Stuffed Puppet Theatre of Amsterdam build upon the many interpretations over the centuries of the story of Salomé – from St. Matthew’s Gospel to the play by Oscar Wilde – to create a visually rich and entertaining performance. The company claims to engage in an archaeological enterprise to excavate the essence of the story from beneath the accumulation of centuries, but arguably it is this very accumulation that informs the production, which in typically postmodern style ransacks all history, art and popular culture – from classical painting to TV game shows via the opera of Richard Strauss – to tell its tale.

The strongest aspects of the production are the sumptuous visual images (a veil blowing in the breeze, a shattered crystal chandelier) and the performance skills of actor/puppeteer Neville Tranter. Tranter single-handedly manipulates and interacts the five beautifully crafted puppets, sometimes ventriloquist and sometimes expressive actor. The occasional use of stillness in the production creates wonderful moments of sculptural silence in what is otherwise a fast-moving show with a racy spoken text. It is the text which I was not altogether comfortable with, however, finding the sledgehammer crudity unfunny at times. To give writer/director Luk van Meerbeke the benefit of the doubt, it may be that something was lost in translation.

This was Stuffed Puppet Theatre’s debut performance in the UK, although the company is known throughout mainland Europe, Australasia and America. With the renewal of interest in adult puppetry, hopefully Tranter’s newest production, Molière, will be seen here soon.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Date Seen
  1. Oct 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-4
p. 23