Reviewed By Panayiota
Naive yet sexy! Dark yet enlightening! Funny but dramatic! Thought provoking and confronting yet mysterious and perplexing!
Venus in Fur, a two-hander by David Ives, is this and more.
Directed by The X Collective’s, Wayne McPhee; Wayne’s influence, rather, desire seems to be to thrill his audience into dominance and submission with a bit of dark comedy to boot.
And it all begins upon entering the Latvian Community Hall; this local, yet tucked away, treasure in the heart of Woolloongabba at 10 Bank Lane.
A wall-sized banner of Venus in Fur actors, Alyson Joyce (AJ) and Nick Sinclair, hangs in the main foyer. This entices many into taking selfies alongside the stars.
Once inside, audience members expand their awareness by enjoying their drinks to the seductive sounds of Laura Fois. Accompanied on the piano by Lachlan Feng, Jazz is a very appropriate genre to begin.
The story is set in New York City and the set, simply dressed. An audition space furnished with a stylish antique looking settee/couch stage right and a desk with chairs stage left. Another table with chairs further back.
There’s something about the simplicity of this set that lends itself to the tone of the play and the lighting matches it’s mood so well. Soft but vivid.
It all begins with Nick Sinclair playing Thomas Novachek, a playwright and director. He’s been auditioning all day to fill a lead female role for a play he’s adapted by German author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1870s). He’s ready to call it a day, when in comes AJ, playing Vanda Jordan, a seemingly naive, young, wanna-be actress running late for an audition that was never booked to begin with. Thomas dismisses her, but her determination to get the part helps Thomas’ agree to an audition, then and there.
They begin and interestingly, though Vanda may seem feeble minded, fumbling into getting ready, she soon proves to know quite a bit about Thomas and his play and certainly has a meaningful grasp on her character which she doesn’t hesitate to express.
And though Thomas often negates her comments, he is intrigued by her intelligence, and continues with this audition.
The script is so well written, that both dramatic and comedic moments occur naturally, entertaining us, the audience, as these individuals dance around exploring the feminine/masculine, dominance/submission, sensuality/sexuality, love/hate, relationships, bondage/masochism, and so much more because there are so many layers and in spite of this, the pace is steady but fast.
It is a privilege to be able to see into the minds/lives of these two people. Their acting prowess shines throughout. Their character transitions happen smoothly and clearly; especially, their accent changes. Both have a great grasp on their General US and RP accents and AJ sports some German as well. Quite impressive and clearly definable.
Nothing speaks volumes in any performance than creative chemistry. AJ and Nick are definitely a great fit for these roles and for each other. Their chemistry is electric right from the word ‘Go!’
To gain a deeper understanding of Venus in Fur, Wayne did extensive research on the topic of masochism and the erotic, having engaged a specialist to coach the team through intimate situations.
On the aside, he also discovered the term “‘masochism’ comes from Sacher-Masoch’s strong interest in being beaten and subjugated.” In fact, in one of Thomas’ lines, he says, “That there can be nothing more sensuous than pain or more pleasurable than degradation.” Such powerful yet revealing words to inspire a playwright’s vision.
So, it goes without saying, a massive congratulations to AJ, Nick Sinclair and Wayne McPhee for their dedication to get Venus in Fur to where she is. A superb piece of theatre.
A strong cast and director are always in partnership with an extraordinary production team. We have Brigitte Bennett for Set Design, Charlie Graham for Lighting Design, Laraine Griffiths as Stage Manager, Nah Mulla for Photography, and Tyler Matthews as Intimacy Specialist.
Venus in Fur is a MUST SEE performance and continues playing for a strictly limited season.