“Pleasure alone makes existence worthwhile…” If this quote rings true then why not pleasure yourself? Why deny yourself any earthly indulgence during your inevitably limited on this planet- isn’t that the whole point of living…to be happy? Many people say pleasing someone else is actually the highest form of happiness. Others say the whole point of living is to progress to the ultimate pleasure destination- that ‘Heavenly’ happy place. Either way- pleasure is inextricably linked to the cycle of life and exists as a driving force throughout our human existence. The Arts Club draws on this topic of titillation in their newest ‘kinky’ comedy ‘Venus in Fur,’ and what a pleasure indeed it was…
With just two performers and the setting an audition room, the play is intensely intimate. The stakes? High…The female character is attempting to impress the director enough to be cast as the lead character in his new play ‘Venus in Fur,’ adapted from the semi-pornographic novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (whose name interestingly inspired the term sadomasochism). She is a young, chaotic woman seemingly seeking some control over her life, whereas her counterpart is looking for just the opposite- to lose control. The director soon becomes the one taking direction as young actress Vanda dives headfirst into the dominant, sexually charged character she is reading for…
The ‘play within in a play’ lines become blurred, until at times you cannot be sure if the ‘actors’ (in the play within a play) are really ‘acting’ any longer. Oh, and by the way- the ‘actors’ (enough quotation marks!) are astounding. Enough of a reason themselves to see this play; Lindsay Angell in particular blew me away in this challenging and career defining role.
Which person in a relationship ever really has the upper hand? Think of any couple you know, even your own relationship, and while it might seem fairly clear as to who ‘wears the pants,’ (so to speak) are you ever really sure? One point the play makes is that even if one person gets off on acting dominant, they are only able to do this with a submissive counterpart- who alternatively and perhaps equally enjoys being docile. Hence- the dynamic of the relationship is balanced.
‘Venus in Fur‘ brings to light the question of how much we all truly want to be dominated. In life, in relationships, in sex…do we truly want a director? Or do we want to be our own director. Do we want to role play, alternate, and act different parts in our own lives? A play like this demonstrates the need in all of us to sometimes just give in to our fantasies- the ones we might not dare to give into in real life- for fear of judgement, egoism, or just plain cowardice….but hell- isn’t it just more fun if we do?
‘Venus in Fur‘ by David Ives plays at the Arts Club’s Granville Island stage until November 2nd.
Disclaimer: As a theatre blogger for GVPTA, my ticket was provided free of charge to this production. That being said, opinions and statements made are my own. This is not a review, but a post meant to promote discussion within the Vancouver Theatre Community. GVPTA supports its member theatre companies.