Lizzie Hopley

BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3

Broadcast: Sunday 30th July 2006 @ 8:45 p.m.

The myth of Salome began as a brief reference in the Bible and was popularised by Oscar Wilde's sexually avaricious portrayal, written at the turn of the last century and set to music by Richard Strauss. This new version by Lizzie Hopley strips away the myth to engage with the visceral human story a family drama about broken and threatened relationships, fierce love and hatred, at whose heart is an abandoned young girl on the brink of womanhood.

Set on the brink of a new era - while a young carpenter is travelling across Israel propagating his new religion - this story revolves around a young girl, Salome, who is forced to leave her father's house and all that she knows at the age of 13, when her mother (Herodias) makes a politically advantageous decision to leave Salome's father in order to marry his brother, Herod Antipas.

For a month Salome is left alone in Herod's fortress, awaiting the arrival of her mother. She runs wild, making her camp in the bathhouses of the palace's underground recesses. While alone she overhears the agonised cries of Herod's most important and most feared prisoner, John the Baptist.

Herod and Herodias return to hold a feast in honour of the Emperor. But right from the start events do not proceed well. Herodias discovers Herod's prisoner, and is furious that Herod keeps the very man who has destroyed her reputation (calling her a "whore of Jordan") in the palace where she must live.

Worse still, her daughter takes refuge in the cell of the very man Herodias hates. As Herodias struggles to maintain her status, her daughter discovers her own power.

With Kenneth Cranham [Herod Antipas], Fenella Woolgar [Herodias], Florence Hoath [Salome], Tony Curran [John the Baptist], Karl Johnson [Chuza], Sally Hawkins [Joanna], Gerrard McArthur [Sejanus], Paul Dinnen [Mannai / Saducee], and Ian Brooker [Pharisee].

All other parts played by members of the cast.

Directed by Lu Kemp

85 min.


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