On a dark and stormy evening in New York, an actress 'Wanda Jordan' (Tilly Legge) forces her way into Thomas' (Darcy Kent) theatre space, hours late for her audition, unprepared, wearing a bondage collar and fetish costume. She feigns naivety and manipulates Thomas to read his play 'Venus in Fur' with her. As the 'all night long' audition ensues, Thomas is seduced by the 'Vanda', and cannot separate the character from the actress.
Darcy Kent as 'Thomas' and Tilly Legge as 'Vanda' - photo by Sarah Walker
Both Vanda and Thomas slip in and out of the roleplay, but it is unclear if they know each other, are strangers, are lovers, or just a director and vying actress. The status and power of the characters flip and turn between dominant and submissive until Vanda confronts Thomas about his ingrained misogyny and disregard for his fiancée.
This performance is an intense 95 minutes but stick with it, as this is a clever piece adapted by David Ives, from 'Venus in Furs' by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The audience is kept guessing as Legge and Kent power through an aerobic display of highly charged interactions, building suspense and erupting in a volcanic climax.
There are divided opinions about this play; some think David Ives is making a statement about misogyny and the treatment of women in the theatre industry. Others think it is a contemporary interpretation of Sacher-Masoch' story of his life and marriage.
Whatever the case, this is a great production by Lightning Jar Theatre, directed by Kirsten Von Bibra, and if you can sit through a movie, then get along and see Venus in Fur at 45 Downstairs this week.