Venus in Fur brings kinky comedy to the Guild

Venus in Fur promises a night of dark, sexy comedy at the Guild Hall Theatre in Whitehorse. The story is about a book within a play within a play.

Venus in Fur promises a night of dark, sexy comedy at the Guild Hall Theatre in Whitehorse.

The story is about a book within a play within a play.

The book is Venus in Furs, an 1870 novella by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. It’s the story from which we derive the term masochism.

The central character in the book falls in love with a woman and submits himself to her as a slave.

In the play, Venus in Fur, the lead male character Thomas is a playwright who has adapted the book into a play, and is searching for the perfect female lead. That’s when Vanda comes along, an actress who at first seems ditzy and over the top, determined to land the role.

The rest of the play shifts between the two characters performing as themselves, and as the roles from Thomas’ script.

“Basically a power struggle ensues,” explained director Brad Dryborough.

“You start to question, ‘Who is this woman exactly? Is she this ditzy actress? Does she have an ulterior motive for being there?’ And then you’re really left at the end with really fun questions to discuss after the play about exactly who she is and what she came for.”

Some might walk away with bigger questions.

“If they’re really paying attention and want to, there’s some stuff that can definitely, for men, challenge the way we think about women a little bit,” said Dryborough.

The play was written by David Ives, and has debuted off-Broadway before moving to Broadway in 2011. The second run earned a Tony award for best actress.

Whitehorse is lucky to have been able to secure the rights to perform the play, said Dryborough. Usually it would be restricted to large professional and touring companies, but because the Yukon is so far off the touring circuit the performance was allowed to come to the Guild.

Dryborough is based in Vancouver, and this is his second time in Whitehorse as a director.

In 2010, he came to direct The Boys, also at the Guild.

That, too, was a dark comedy. It was about two brothers who came home after the death of an estranged father to a stepmother who didn’t much want them around.

The talent of the theatre community in Whitehorse continues to impress him, said Dryborough.

“I’m so impressed by the quality of people that they bring in to help you.”

This time around, he is excited to work with two enthusiastic local actors who have both been away from the stage for several years.

The lead roles are played by Yukoners Rebecca Nelken and Roy Neilson.

Dryborough knew that he wanted to work with them as soon as he saw them audition together, he said.

“They had never met till five minutes before they came in, and they were fantastic.”

But what really gives these actors an edge is their enthusiasm for the production.

“I will take people who really want to do something over people who are going to be good but are kind of undecided or lacking that ‘I really want to do this’ anytime because it makes the process so much easier,” said Dryborough. “I mean they were off book quick, they were prepared, they were open, willing to try whatever they needed to try.”

Dryborough is thrilled to bring a play to Whitehorse that people are likely to be unfamiliar with, featuring actors that people are likely to be unfamiliar with, he said.

“You can just go and enjoy it for the experience that it is.”

The audience should expect a little bit of everything: humour, darkness and sexiness, said Dryborough.

As for the actors, they are getting antsy to finally perform in front of an audience.

“They’re really champing at the bit to get going. So I think the opening is going to be great.”

Venus in Fur previews tonight and runs Wednesday through Saturday until Oct. 13.

Tickets for the preview are five dollars. The Oct. 3 show is pay-what-you-can.

Other nights are $20, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $22, Fridays and Saturdays.

Tickets can be purchased at Whitehorse Motors at the corner of 4th and Wheeler, or at the door.

All shows are at 8 p.m.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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