Skip to main content

Venus in Fur

Last night a bunch of us went to watch Venus in Fur written by David Ives, who in the program is posing like his hands are a waffle cone and his face is a scoop of ice cream. He adapted the play from the "notorious" 1870 tract, Venus im Pelz, created by Austrian Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Von Sacher-Masoch's name is the origin of the term "masochism," so no, the book is not about unicorns and puppies. It's about a man who wants to be dominated and the woman who does so.

The play is a riot. It's often hilarious and at times uncomfortable. Venus in Fur only has two characters: Thomas (Chris Kipiniak) the playwright and director, and Vanda (Andrea Syglowski) the actress. Despite taking a play-within-a-play structure, the premise is straightforward: Thomas has adapted the play Venus in Fur and has just finished auditioning for the main female role of Vanda. He is displeased with the low quality of the actresses who came in. He is about to storm off when a woman named Vanda rushes in and begs to be considered. She is so frenetic and enthusiastic about the role, and clearly trying so hard to butter him up, that Thomas eventually relents.

Vanda gets into costume and disappears into a doorway singing something inane. She emerges as the play's Vanda, a beautiful, wealthy, self-possessed aristocrat who engages the male lead Severin (as read by Thomas) in sparkling conversation with sexual undertones. Both Thomas and the audience are struck by the transformation, which Syglowski does beautifully by initially playing Vanda as a space cadet. She then breaks character hilariously ("That's the end of page three"), the first of many charming tonal shifts that both thespians engage in.

The "audition" continues well past the point initially agreed, sometimes interrupted by Vanda's questioning or editorializing, and Thomas' fiery defense of his art. She compares the story to pornography, accuses it of being sexist, points out that her character doesn't actually have agency, and scoffs at the play's final act. Meanwhile, Thomas is furious about his work being misunderstood. Vanda later reveals a detailed knowledge of Thomas' personal life, and, once he's shaken, persuades him to reverse roles -- he will play Vanda, and she will be Severin.

I shan't spoil the ending, but here's a picture from the Huntington Theater Company:

Woohoo! Art! That searing exploration of the depths and heights of human nature! That which allows us to underline the beautiful and the absurd whilst wearing shiny thigh-high stripper boots!

In conclusion: As with any piece of art/adaptation of literature, consumers are free to interpret based on their own contexts. I saw it as Ives' satire about the playwright who lacks self-awareness. Fear the muse, could also be considered a main theme, especially given Vanda's improvisation of a bubbly Venus/Aphrodite with a Russian accent. That's just me. But I enjoyed the hell out of it, which I'm pretty sure is the point.

This post brought to you by Cat on Lap Protocol (Home Law § "If a cat is on the lap of a home resident or guest, said home resident or guest is exempt from all movement required for retrieving essential items such as beer, food, or electronic devices.")

Popular posts from this blog

An International Women's Day Miracle!

Truly, International Women's Day is a special day. No, not because multitudes are out there rallying for our rights and giving voice to the powerless. It is because I won a gift card from a company raffle!

Let me explain why this counts as a minor miracle. You see, I never win anything. I answer every damned survey sent my way, participate in all the raffles, buy lottery tickets -- to no avail. This particular raffle occurred monthly, and I had been faithfully entering my name every month for two years, with no results. Finally, last month, I declared: "No more!" and unsubscribed from the mailing list -- but not before entering one final time, because why not.


There's also some déjà vu at play here. You see, four years ago, I won a gift card from a company raffle. The one fracking time I won anything! I was elated! Shortly thereafter, also on International Women's Day, I was laid off from my job.

Sooooo...since the day's almost over, I guess I'm not…

Paint Nite!

Last night I joined the "Oops" Paint Nite event hosted by the Club Cafe in Back Bay. About 12+ people came to relax and have two artists guide them through painting this original work:

The point was not to slavishly duplicate "Oops" -- we were instructed to make it our own, to relax, and not to utter the words, "Mine sucks," "Can you do this for me?" or "I thought this was paint-by-numbers!"

Speaking of dashed hopes, I had assumed that wine was included. I had done something like this before, only it was in the morning and we all got mimosas. Not so here! While the artists were setting up, I schlepped over to the bar and was rewarded with a generous pour of Cabernet. Now I was ready.

The setup: Everyone got a 16" x 20" canvas, three paint brushes, and a palette (a paper plate) with red, yellow, blue, and white paint. One artist (Brian) had the microphone and would paint with us, while the other was the assistant (Kory) who wo…

Get Out (2017)

Get Out has a charismatic lead, a terrific soundtrack, and damn good cinematography. While it’s described as horror/comedy, it’s more disturbing/cringe-y than scary, and I mean that in a good way. This is an entertaining movie that’s also pretty effective as social commentary.

The film stars Daniel Kaluuya as Chris, a photographer who’s about to spend the weekend at his girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) parent’s house. Naturally, it’s in a secluded spot in the woods. When they get there, the awkwardness that might be expected from a first-time meeting gives way to a series of bizarre behaviors and interactions. While Chris initially takes it all in stride, it eventually becomes clear that there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes.

The acting and dialogue are highlights of the film, as is the camera work. In particular, Kaluuya’s eyebrows and head tilts are so expressive that the audience knows what’s going on in his head even as he politely brushes off eccentricities. A…