Bringing kink to theatre

Updated: Feb 5

WARNING: Reader discretion advised due graphic content.

The Drama Merchant is preparing us a treat this new year!

Venus In Fur by David Ives is quite out there.

The book from which it is inspired - Venus In Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch - was set in the 1870s. And the man gave his name to masochism! He’s basically the forefather!

Well, not exactly, but his novel brought the attention of the public to the practice. And for the time, it was quite the scandalous little novel! I have not finished reading it yet, but I have devoured the play and I have a lot of things to say. As always, right?

So sit down and read away, dear reader, cause this one is fascinating.

So, first of all, the play does not follow the book, per se, although our characters do end up in similar situations as the characters in the novel. It is the play about a playwright and director who is auditioning actresses for his adaption of the book. He meets Wanda, who is auditioning for Vanda Dunayev (Coincidence? I think not). As she is trying to convince him she is made for the role, she almost takes on the personality of the character. Intrigued, Thomas decides to become the Kushemski to her Dunayev.

So basically it is a play about an almost rehearsal of a play based on a book. Phew!

Still following me? Good.

The whole play is between these two characters alone. At the start, their positions are well defined. He has all the power, as he wrote the play, is directing it, and can very well decide not to hire her for the role. While she seems quite desperate to get it. But as we read through the play, she proves that she might very well indeed be the perfect fit for the character. She is feminine but not vulgar, a woman of strength and character, much like the protagonist of the novel.

The further we read, the more the defined positions blur. We do not know if we are merely watching (I know I only read it, but in my mind, it is a watchable moment) two good actors rehearsing or if we are actually witnessing the tables being turned as Thomas, very much like Kushemski, becomes subdued by Vanda, or Dunayev.

It is very ambiguous but delectably so. It is sexy and funny and thought provoking. Yes we are talking about BDSM. But this is so much more than a kink story.

For Kushemski, it is about trusting someone to have dominance over him, because for him to feel intimacy at its heights, to abandon himself in someone’s embrace, to be his true self, is to be submissive.

For Dunayev, it is about pushing her boundaries so much so that she overcomes her own limits, or the society’s views of how a woman should behave. It is quite fascinating.

Then you have the layer of Thomas and Vanda, at first only playing the roles of those two lovers, but eventually unable to deny the compatibility of their personalities and the chemistry between them.

The play is really multi-layered: the layers of man and woman, love as opposed to pleasure, cruelty for someone being someone else’s passion and natural love, where does the power reside when one desires and the other is being desired.

The list goes on.

It is worth multiple reads, but this is my first impression on the play, and I am very curious to see how Nathan will make it come to life on stage in February.

I will write more about it soon, as I will soon pick his brain about his vision. By then, I should have finished reading the novel and will be able to further my thoughts.

So, stay tuned, there is more to come!


Between 14.012.2020 and the 11.01.2021 Tickets for 2 will be $45.00!

Use the word LAUNCH in the coupon box when you purchase tickets here

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