Presented by STARC Productions
Reviewed 9th April 2021
Veteran director Tony Knight collaborates with actors Stefanie Rossi and Marc Clement for Venus in Fur.
David Ives’ 2010 play Venus in Fur draws inspiration from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 19th century erotic novel. Through his fictitious New York playwright (Thomas Novacheck, played by Clement) and actress (Vanda Jordan, played by Rossi), Ives delves deeper than the original. Vanda arrives late to audition for Thomas’ new off-Broadway play. Through a combination of fast-talking, flirting, and flattery, he agrees to read with her. However, this is an audition like no other. As Thomas says, these “two people meet and ignite each other.” Their impassioned banter and debates cover dominance and submission, gender and power, mythology, and comedy.
As partners in real life, Rossi and Clement are perfectly suited to play as Vanda and Thomas. They spark with onstage chemistry. They move around the stage like two planets gravitationally bound, moving closer as their characters’ discourse grows heated. Rossi is perfect as the irresistible and erratic Vanda, changing character with a clap of her hands. Clement embraces the irascible and repressed Thomas, but perhaps shines brightest when he succumbs to Vanda’s charms at the climax of the play.
Stephen Dean’s sound and lighting design should also be commended. Vanda and Thomas often assume roles from Sacher-Masoch’s novel – dialogue serving as foreplay. The lighting overhead changes subtly to indicate which characters are speaking. STARC Productions aims to champion the actors, who perform on a Spartan stage. Therefore, sound and lighting make a large impact.
Venus in Fur is love and lust, passion and defiance. Superbly directed by Tony Knight. Watch and enjoy as Clement and Rossi react to each other’s vibrant characters.
Reviewed by Nicola Woolford
Venue: Bakehouse Theatre
Season: 7th – 17th April 2021
Duration: 100 minutes
Tickets: $23.00 – $30.00
Rating out of 5: 5