The energy in the room during Andrea Moor’s production of Venus in Fur by David Ives absolutely tangible. The audience were invested, laughing, groaning and waiting with bated breath for the next move. The three curtain calls and standing ovation for the cast and crew were well deserved.
Straight from Broadway Venus in Fur is a two-hander that leads the audience directly into the middle of field of power plays between the sexes, between director and actor, between mistress and slave, between artist and muse.
Todd Macdonald plays Thomas, a playwright-director adapting the 1870 novel Venus in Furs by Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the father of masochism. After a failed day of casting-calls searching for the right woman to play dominatrix Vanda, frazzled but sassy actress (conveniently also named) Vanda (Libby Munro) storms in, and manages to get a reading. Lines of reality and fantasy become blurred and at times unrecognisable.
Todd Macdonald gives a rich and robust performance as the tense adaptor fighting for his work, and at times his sanity. A romantic at heart and a dick at times, Macdonald nailed the grouchy-but-puppy-dog-cuteness that is sharply undercut by the character’s arrogance (and subsequent ignorance).
Libby Munro is a force to be reckoned with. Her performance takes you by the balls and owns the show. According to Queensland Theatre Company’s Artistic Director’s Welcome Notes, QTC have been trying to find the perfect role for Libby since she attended the general auditions two years ago. This is the perfect role. And her presence on stage is long overdue.
Andrea Moor has directed a provocative and powerful production of a seriously smart play. All the elements – from Guy Webster’s haunting and theatrical score, David Walters' simple (hilariously referenced in the script) lighting and Simone Romaniuk’s rustic, down-town warehouse set design – marry Moor’s search regarding “how we should take responsibility for what we represent in art”.
Under Moor’s suggestion QTC have negotiated for the rights to this Australian premiere, and it was all worth it. From the pre-show nineties and noughties soundtrack of women in rock to the last lighting strike and bolt of thunder, you’ll be waiting, anticipating, entertained, thinking, laughing, arguing and kind of frightened. What more could you ask for?
I do encourage every-one to go out, see this production, make up your own mind and tell others what you thought.
Queensland Theatre Company presents
VENUS IN FUR
by David Ives
Director Andrea Moor
Venue: Cremorne Theatre, QPAC
Dates: 22 June – 27 July
Tickets: $33 – $65