Venus in Fur | Black Swan State Theatre CompanyLeft – Adam Booth and Felicity McKay. Cover – Felicity McKay and Adam Booth. Photos – Gary Marsh

Something that can be even hotter than having sex, is NOT having sex. And in that way, Venus in Fur, presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company as part of the Perth Fringe Festival is a delicious tease.

For most of the 90 minute play, we imagine that these characters simply must succumb to the inevitable, as the lust in the air is tangible. But, every time they reach a point of connection that precedes intimacy, they cut through the static and create new meaning for the moment. It drives the story forward, and contributes to the engagement between the characters and captivation for the audience.

The character of Vanda undeniably controls the journey of the characters and the story, even if she sometimes has to lead from behind. Recent WAAPA graduate Felicity McKay was exquisitely superb in this manner as she switched between her characters in the play within a play. McKay was as divine and intoxicating as the often referenced, goddess Aphrodite.

As wonderful as Adam Booth’s performance was, his characters were merely a backdrop and a sounding board to the character of Vanda who groped at the subtext of both the play they were reading and everything Booth’s character, Thomas Novachek, said and did, extracting hypotheses and suggesting new truth.

The script, by David Ives, at first seemed clear and lulled the audience into the sense that we knew where it was heading, but with each tease, with each twist, it became more convoluted and we were whisked into another possibility, another deeper and darker dimension of what might be real.

The plot deals with issues like child abuse and its effects, dominant and submissive sadomasochistic sexual play, fidelity and sexism. While this sounds intense, it’s intrinsically woven throughout the dialogue and not dealt with in a heavy handed way.

Venus in Fur is the first of two Black Swan Lab productions this year, which will nurture emerging artists. With ticket prices much lower than the usual for Black Swan, I highly recommend this for both novice theatre goers and long term appreciators.

Black Swan State Theatre Company present
Venus in Fur
by David Ives

Venue: Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA
Dates: Jan 15 – Feb 8 2015
Tickets: $30 – $50
Bookings: Ticketek 1300 795 012

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