Lights out. Rolls and crashes of thunder ensue.
Theatre Kingston takes New York Broadway original, the transcending playwright Venus in Fur, David Ives’ story of alluring sexuality into a theme for the modern day society in thinking about our own privileges.
Venus in Fur, inspired by the infamous erotic novel of the same name, takes audiences through the mind of writer-director Thomas Novachek and his exploration of the female sex through the eyes of actress Vanda Jordan.
Exasperated by the lack of female talent for his new play, Novachek is surprised when it’s the risqué and brazen Vanda who puts on an audition unlike anything he has seen before.
Themes of masochism, sexism, and female dominance and empowerment are explored in this play-within-a-play adaptation. Played by Charlotte Gowdy, Jordan acts the perfect foil to Shane Carty’s Thomas, exemplifying how Novachek’s privileged upbringing has shaped the way he sees her and the female sex in general.
Vanda, in playing her character, transforms from loud-mouthed city girl into a sophisticated woman of authority.
The dynamic interactions between Jordan and Novachek are evident. As the lines between Jordan and Novachek and the characters they play became more and more blurred, the two get caught up in the characters they’re playing. Soon, the two separate periods transform into one, and the balance of power is challenged.
Technical aspects of the production heightened the overall tension of the play, as if the audience felt themselves to be invisible interlocutors within the setting.
Where the lighting brought forth the intimacy of the two characters, the booming rolls of thunder heard throughout the 90 minutes added an intensifying sense of the power reversal that was soon to come.
Brett Christopher, the director of Venus in Fur, took his experience from a “closed-door discussion” earlier in the summer where “artists of colour had an opportunity to talk about their experiences in the Canadian theatre community”.
Building upon this, he brings a fresh perspective to his directing style so that audiences are able understand the play in a new light.
“As a white, liberal, privileged Canadian artist, I thought I understood and could relate to the problems that people of colour face,” he said. “Much like my own subterranean prejudice and ignorance, Thomas is given the opportunity to look at his life through the eyes of another.”
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