09venusinfur splashKink, by definition, refers to sexual practices outside of what the public considers to be the norm. It’s thought of as separate or other, hidden in the shadows from mainstream culture. Only recently have phenomena like the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise – with all its whips, chains and the like – been able to chip away at that barrier. Yet kink is also transmuted in David Ives’ play “Venus in Fur,” which runs at the Gilbert Theater Feb. 2-17.

The nature of theater is exhibition on a big scale, but what “Venus in Fur “deals with is the definition of discretion. The play promises an erotic power play that can, with the right two actors, thoroughly shock and entertain an audience.

The play takes its name from the 1870 Austrian novella by Leopold von Sacher- Masoch. Ives’ play, however, reimagines the main two characters as existing in modern times. A director is casting for a theater production of “Venus in Furs” when Vanda Jordan walks in to audition for the lead female role. Her audition, and the subsequent plot of the rest of the actual play, is a rabbit hole of lost reality and parlaying dominance.

On Broadway, Ives’ play garnered numerous nominations at the Tony Awards in 2011, including a win for Best Actress. It has been repeatedly staged across the world since its inception.

The Guardian wrote of one adaptation starring Natalie Dormer on the London stage, in October 2017, “So begins a game of cat and mouse, an intricate two-step operating as a play within a play in which the power balance continually shifts.”

The L.A. Times wrote of Venus in Fur in 2014, “The stage is a perfect medium for the investigation of this kind of fantasy role-playing.” Hopefully, on a more intimate stage like at the Gilbert, this level of volatile intimacy will ricochet off the walls.

Artistic Director Matthew Overturf said, “This is a funny, sexy and ultimately poignant piece dealing with the many facets of different power relationships, specifically the actor and director relationship. Audiences should expect to laugh even while dealing with this titillating and challenging work. This is definitely a show for adults.”

According to Overturf, this is the first time the Gilbert has produced “Venus in Fur.”

“This show is a wonderful and challenging piece of theater that audiences are definitely going to enjoy,” said Overturf. “It fits squarely in the mission of the Gilbert to produce cutting edge work that really challenges audiences to think outside the box.”

For tickets and more information, visit www.gilberttheater.com.

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