‘Venus in Fur’ // The X Collective

‘Venus in Fur’ was captivating.

On Friday night we had the pleasure of watching David Ives’ play ‘Venus in Fur’ by the X Collective, at the Latvian Hall. ‘Venus in Fur’ is a captivating and thought-provoking dark comedy that explores power dynamics and gender roles.

I was excited to see this play, having loved the 2013 movie adaptation by Roman Polanski. The two-character play with sharp and witty dialogues has taken the theatre world by storm since its premiere in 2010, garnering critical acclaim and multiple Tony Award nominations.

The play takes place during the audition process for a play adaptation of ‘Venus in Fur’, a 19th-century erotic novel. It opens with Thomas (Nick Sinclair), a director, frustrated with the candidates he’s auditioned. He is about to leave the theatre when a young actress named Vanda (Alyson Joyce) rushes in, drenched from the rain and seemingly unprepared for the audition. Thomas is initially dismissive of Vanda, but as she begins to read lines from the script, Thomas becomes increasingly intrigued.

As the audition progresses, the lines between the play and reality begin to blur, and Vanda begins to embody the character in ways that surprise Thomas. Through their intense and often erotic interactions, Vanda challenges Thomas’s assumptions about the play, her abilities, and her own desires.

The performances in ‘Venus in Fur’, and particularly Joyce’s, were exceptional. The chemistry between the two actors was electric, and the tension built steadily throughout the performance, culminating in a powerful and thought-provoking finale.

Joyce and Sinclair portrayed their characters with depth and nuance, bringing a sense of authenticity and vulnerability to their performances.

I can’t stress it enough – Joyce’s rendition of Vanda was simply incredible to watch and was the highlight of the production. Playing a character as complex as Vanda requires a range of emotions and transitions, and Joyce handled them with ease and authenticity. She flawlessly shifted between the submissive and assertive sides of Vanda, and her chemistry with Sinclair was gripping. It was clear that Joyce had a deep understanding of the character and her motivations, and also a confidence and rich stage presence which can only come from years of experience.

The direction by Wayne McPhee and Assistant Director Sandra Harman was flawless, and the set design by Brigitte Bennett was gorgeous, and added to the experience, transporting the audience into the world of the play.

It was a surprise to find such high-quality theatre in the modest Latvian Hall in Woolloongabba. Despite the small space, the production was executed with impressive attention to detail, from the set design to the lighting and sound effects, and to me, offered a reminder that great theatre can be found in unexpected places.

In conclusion, ‘Venus in Fur’ is a must-see production for anyone interested in exploring the complexities of power dynamics, in discovering impressive new talent, and also anyone keen to have a great night out at the theatre.

‘Venus in Fur’ performs until Saturday, 6 May 2023 at the Latvian Community Hall in Woolloongabba. For more information visit their socials.

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