Wil King. Holden Street Theatres. 10 Mar 2022
Venus in Fur by David Ives has won Bank SA’s Week 3 Fringe award for Best Theatre, so don’t just take my word for it that this theatrical offering is a knock-out. Venus… is a showcase for a female and a male actor going head-to-head in performing psychological warfare in an increasingly escalating sexually charged environment of innuendo and intrigue.
Situation: New York City somewhere off Broadway. A playwright/director has been unsuccessfully auditioning for a female all day and is packing up when a whirlwind of manic energy barges in and demands an audition, even though she is late and not even actually on the list. The playwright’s play is an adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novel, Venus in Furs. To give you some insight into the attendant theme, the word masochism was derived from Sacher-Masoch’s name.
The auditionee Wanda appears a bit air-headed yet mysteriously compelling, so much so that the director relents, and they role-play the script. He is beguiled and utterly captivated by her skill and flattery, and their reality is excruciatingly subsumed by the sexualism of the play.
The theatrical juice must be absolutely gushing in all respects to create 90 minutes of inexhaustible sensual tension. The script is loaded with razor-sharp changes in hierarchy and not just the switcheroo between the dictatorial director and female auditionee, but numerous quick changes into the play’s characters and the role reversal goes into dangerous and lascivious overdrive. This ain’t gonna work unless you have superb talent like Wil King and Bridget Gao-Hollitt. Director Daniel Lammin is a NIDA graduate of Directing and he is responsible for so suggestively coordinating their ample body language with the text. Lighting designer Matt Ralph and sound designer KAK use their skills so subtly you don’t realise the mood-altering effect until long after you are entrained. Rain, lightning and thunder are co-ordinated with explosive moments on stage. Designer Sam Hastings enhanced the experience of locking onto Gao-Hollitt’s characters with some sexy fancy dress and a fetching purple outfit with the eponymous fur.
Playwright David Ives is steeped in the New York performance scene and he serves up a masterpiece where he takes the director-auditionee relationship and hyperextends it into something even more slavish and sexually overt with Sacher-Masoch’s Venus….
When: 1 to 20 Mar
Where: Holden Street Theatres