Melville Theatre takes on ‘Venus in Fur’

Melville Theatre’s first offering for 2018 is David Ives’ play within a play Venus in Fur.

The play by the US playwright, screenwriter and novelist was last performed in Perth in 2015 by Black Swan State Theatre Company.

This production is directed by Trevor Dhu, Venus in Fur was first staged in 2010 and nominated for numerous Tony Awards before Roman Polanski shot a French film version in late 2012.

The work is an adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus in Furs by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the book that inspired the term masochism.

The play goes behind the scenes at an audition in New York City where a playwright and mysterious young actress blur the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power and love and sex.

Armed with a bag of S&M gear and period costumes, the actress convinces the playwright to read his own script with breaks along the way to argue about the meaning of the story.

“As the reading progresses, the characters take on the roles for real and one of them, through the portal of love, becomes the dominant gender – but with a premise of complete control, sexism and sadomasochism,” Dhu said.

“It’s frequently described as a play-within-a-play but one of the plays is actual reality.

“The main challenge is the gradual timing for sensuality and domination to take over and guiding the cast and my perspectives of the play’s themes and plot.

“I also need to assist the actors to build up such an out-of-real-life comedy-drama.”

Involved in the performing arts for as long as he can remember, Dhu has worked with Patch and Playhouse Theatres, Perth City Ballet and did extensive professional work with the Australian Dance Theatre in the eastern states.

He has directed, choreographed and acted in various productions at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre – most notably West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar – and also performed and directed at Harbour, Roleystone, Old Mill and Melville Theatres.

More recently, Dhu has directed Summer of the Seventeenth Doll at the Old Mill Theatre, winner of several Milly Awards, and the acclaimed Closer, as well as Barefoot in the Park and Spike Heels.

“My decision to direct Venus in Fur is that I prefer doing plays that have a quirk and are a creative venture that stretch local theatre boundaries – but, at the same time, give local talent the opportunity to try something different,” he said.

“More personally, I was dominated by my mother and emotionally dominated in a previous relationship so part of it is looking at that tricky search to find equality in a relationship.”

Venus in Fur plays at 8pm February 16, 17, 21, 23, 24, March 1, 2 and 3 with a 2pm matinee February 25. Book on 9330 4565 or at Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.

OIP Staff

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