I was lucky enough to review Lightning Jar Theatre’s Stupid F**king Bird in February last year and I absolutely loved it (review here http://ir.rmitv.org/2017/02/14/theatre-stupid-fucking-bird/) so naturally I jumped at the chance to see their second production, award-winning playwright David Ives’ 2010 Venus in Fur.
Thomas, a beleaguered playwright and director is desperately searching for the perfect actress to play Vanda, the female lead in his adaptation of the classic sadomasochistic tale Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Just as he’s getting ready to leave for the night, in walks a loud, crass and seemingly all wrong actress, coincidentally also named Vanda. Though she seems miles from what he’s looking for, Vanda has a strange command of the material, piquing Tomas’ interest. As the two work through the script, the lines between play and reality begin to blur and they sink further and further into a serious game of submission and domination.
Darcy Kent plays a compelling Thomas – all pedantry and contained desire – and Tilly Legge as Vanda is utterly captivating, both as Vanda the actress and Vanda the Countess in Sacher-Masoch’s play. Her energy and raw sexuality make for dynamic viewing experience bringing the audience to raucous laughter and just as quickly to a state of heightened sexual tension. The two are a charismatic, enthralling pair.
Directed by Green Room Award winning director Kirsten von Bibra and set against the backdrop of Fortyfivedownstairs’ intimate derelict basement-esque performance space and lit by Megz Evan’s thoughtful design, Venus in Fur is moody, mysterious and erotic. At the same time, the play is wildly funny and very sharp – an intense exploration of sexual politics, desire, gender and power and another iteration of Lightning Jar’s obsession with bringing detailed, language-driven and intelligent work to dynamic life.
Cast: Darcy Kent and Tilly Legge
Director: Kirsten von Bibra
Producer: Hannah Greenwood and Dylan Watson
Sound Designer: Linton Wilkinson
Composer: Claire Healy
Lightning Designer: Megz Evans
Set & Costume Design: Dann Barber
Dialect Coach: Jean Goodwin
Stage Manager: Jackie Mates
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: 13 – 24 March 2018 (previews: 9 – 11 March)
Bookings and further information can be found here.
Photo credit Sarah Walker.