Ego abounds in Venus in Fur. Like Charlie Kaufman writing himself into the 2002 film, Adaptation, David Ives has written a playwright into the text here, albeit with a few tweaks. Indeed, while Adaptation charts a journey for the fictional Charlie from self-loathing to some semblance of confidence, in Venus our fictional David – here called Thomas – begins from a place of control before having that control systematically dismantled.
Auditions for Thomas’ play have not gone well. No one is right for the part, the weather has turned bad, and as Thomas is about to leave, in stumbles Vanda. Clumsy yet charming, she proves to be as unpredictable as the storm outside. He shouldn’t give her a shot, but he does. She shouldn’t be this good an actress, but she is. There’s no possible way she would have memorised the whole script on her brief train-ride to the studio, but she has. What then plays out, over a semi-sprawled set, is a tremendous display of theatrical bravura.
Both actors certainly show their abilities to possess their characters and take what could be a muddle of switching roles and comedic-ish moments and build a coherent and compelling story – but this is more about precision than possession.
Tilly Legge is a razor on stage, her performance as Vanda tapering to an edge that never dulls for a moment. Even as she plays, she cuts, interrogating Thomas until the question of whether she’s got the part is not as important or terrifying as why she is there. Darcy Kent played Thomas, who may be running the audition early on, but not for long. Thomas’ journey from a position of power and control to very much the opposite was brilliantly portrayed.
There was a real leanness to both performances that was thrilling to watch. There were plenty of lurid moments, but absolutely nothing was gratuitous. Instead – much like the company’s production of Stupid Fucking Bird in 2017 – what you’re treated to in the audience is pure storytelling. Best to descend to fortyfivedownstairs for a bit of indecency, because this isn’t a show you want to miss.
Venus in Fur
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Performance: Tuesday 13 March 2018 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 24 March 2018
Information and Bookings: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com
Image: Tilly Legge and Darcy Kent star in Venus in Fur – photo by Sarah Walker
Review: David Collins