Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

Owing to new babies and baptisms and having missed the traditional New Year's Rehoboth Beach shenanigans this year, I'm happily ensconced in planning my bi-annual escape to the old East Coast stomping grounds in a few weeks. These brief rendezvous up and down the Eastern seaboard always end up crammed with sand and shows and sentimentality (and always, always a nostalgic Yuengling or two), and this time around is no exception; there's so much good theater out there right now that I've been wanting to see, it's a perfect time to rope up the old musical buffs and take in a few shows.

You caught this recent New Yorker profile of David Ives' new play, "Venus in Fur," right? It's a fascinating take on sexuality and power, performance and objectification, masochism and desire, all wrapped up in the context of a push-pull audition between a playwright and his potential femme fatale. Hilton Als provides some intriguing back-story on the literary roots of masochism, tracing them back to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's brief 1870 erotic novel, "Venus in Furs." Not only do we learn that the short book was the inspiration for the psychological term "masochism," but we explore "this sexual roundelay about power and powerlessness, about the imagination butting up against so-called 'reality,'" as "played out by two contemporary characters" in the form of Wes Bentley and Nina Arianda.

Arianda's garnering "sensational" reviews for her performance, and the piece has happily been extended through the end of March, meaning I can actually maybe catch this one while I'm in the city. Totally intrigued by the power dynamics fleshed out by Ives' contemporary script. Als writes that
"Ives may be drawing parallels to the novel 'Venus in Furs,' but he pushes beyond Sacher-Masoch’s stifling discussions of male and female, colonizer and colonized, and focusses, instead, on the relationship of actor to writer, actor to director," echoing a legacy of actresses who "each threw herself into an emotionally sordid role in order to tell us something about our profound, collective self-interest, and about how the will to survive is essentially genderless, until society forces us to define ourselves by our sexuality."
So. Interesting. Check out the buzz on this hot new play. I'll see you there next month.


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