Review by Laura Money
Black Swan Theatre Company begins 2015 with a bold, intelligent and provocative work that just shouldn’t be missed. Part of several key initiatives including their “Black Swan Labs” and “Emerging Artists” the show has been developed to encourage emerging artists in Perth. One such artist is lead actress Felicity Mckay as Vanda. As far as debut roles go, this is a challenging and demanding one, requiring her to not only portray two main characters but the nuances and changing roles within them. Her performance is near perfect and she really carries the show.
Thomas Novachek (Adam Booth) is an aspiring playwright hosting auditions for his magnum opus: an adaptation of a novel that struck such a deep chord with him, it’s almost as if it had been written for him. Disillusioned by the cookie-cutter young actresses auditioning for the role of his perfect character Vanda, he starts packing up. There is a knock at the door. It’s Vanda. Rather Vanda Jordan (Mckay) a brash, loud and bold girl who happens to bear the name of the character she desires to play. What follows is an impromptu audition that slowly emerges into something more real than either party care to admit.
Novacheck is the perfect combination of neurotic writer and perfectionist. In his overwhelming desire to achieve perfection for the play he adopts the role of Severin himself and it fits like a glove. Vanda initially appears to be desperate for any acting job but as her audition continues it becomes clear that she was very prepared to take on this role. Mckay is flawless in her rendition of all levels of both Vandas personalities. She remains enigmatic, sexy and always in control – even when she is supposed to be submissive.
Vanda and Thomas’ ‘audition’ spirals darkly and rapidly, questioning gender and societal hierarchies, submission, masochism and the true nature of desires. It is bound by the golden threads of art history, literature, Greek philosophy, Roman mythology and of course, the nineteenth-century Russian penchant for creating flawed and ugly/beautiful characters. Venus in Fur blurs the lines of reality and fiction, character and person, and of course, gender and societal roles in a beautiful and thought provoking show.
Venus in Fur is playing at the State Theatre Centre Western Australia in conjunction with Fringeworld from 15th January – 8th February 2015.