BONDAGE, pain, domination and sexual power collide in Black Swan Theatre’s Venus in Fur at the State Theatre’s Underground.
David Ives work is a play-within-a-play, based on the 1870 novel Venus in Furs, written by the man masochism was named for, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch.
A simple set, just two actors and great chunks of dialogue could have sent audiences to sleep but Ives’ tight, biting script ensures everyone is on the edge of their seats and emotionally wrung out as the show climaxes.
Adam Booth is perfect as Thomas Novacheck, a playwright struggling to find a leading lady for his adaptation of Sacher-Masoch’s novel.
It’s the end of a long day, everyone else has left and in walks Vanda Jordan (Felicity McKay) a brash, gum-chewing, foul-mouthed young woman, who arrives in a flurry of “I’m too late, right? Fuck! FUCK!” she yells.
Stripping off her duffel coat she’s dressed in an outfit that wouldn’t look out of place in a strip joint.
This is not the refined, intelligent young woman Novacheck is looking to cast in the role, but with amazing versatility McKay’s pushy character dons a long white gown and and is suddenly exactly what he wants, down to her Viennese accent.
It’s a transformation McKay makes good use of throughout the show and the WA Academy of Performing Arts graduate’s ability to become a totally different person with a flick of her head is as flawless as it is fascinating.
Booth’s emotional finale is a firecracker of a performance that is both draining and confusing.
Venus in Fur has plenty of laughs, but these soon change in a play that is a fast-paced display of gender mind games—with an ending that will leave you wondering what the hell just happened.
Venus in Fur, (part of the Fringe Festival) is at State Theatre’s Studio Underground, until February 8.
by JENNY D’ANGER