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Friday, September 28, 2012


Review of the production at the 2012 Witness Hilton Art Festival by Caroline Smart

KickstArt’s latest production, Venus in Fur, premiered at The Witness Hilton Arts Festival last weekend. Directed by Steven Stead on an excellent set designed by Greg King, the play marks another fine milestone for this multi-award-winning company.

The play takes as its base, the novella Venus in Furs, by Leopold van Sacher-Masoch which was published in 1870. Its central character is Wanda von Dunajew, modelled after an emerging literary character of the time. This manuscript tells of a man who is so infatuated with her that he asks to be her slave, and encourages her to treat him in progressively more degrading ways.

Fast-track to present day: Writer-director Wes Bentley has just finished an exhausting day interviewing actresses who have been auditioning for the lead character of Wanda in his adaptation of von Sacher-Masoch’s novel.

His eagerly-awaited departure from the studio is shattered when the door flies open and in bursts a volatile, straight-talking, pushy actress called … Vanda! What follows is a fascinating process as the audition takes place with the actress seeming to know more about the novel and the people in it than he does. This is a compelling piece of writing and Janna Ramos-Violante and Neil Coppen do full justice to it. Also a great pleasure to see Neil Coppen back in an acting capacity.

I look forward to seeing this production at Seabrooke’s Theatre next week as the play requires a more intimate space than the wide Hilton College Theatre. One needs to come up close and personal with Venus in Fur to appreciate the actors’ performances. – Caroline Smart