Tag Archives: Capitol Hill Arts Workshop

Taffety Punk’s Riot Grrrrl Much Ado About Nothing, reviewed

Kimberly Gilbert as Benedick


My Washington City Paper review of Taffety Punk‘s ladies-only Much Ado About Nothing is right here. I’m off to Chicago.

S and Empathy: Studio’s Venus in Fur, reviewed, plus Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them

Christian Conn and Erica Sullivan whip it good. (Scott Suchman)

Venus in Fur
by David Ives
Directed by David Muse
At Studio Theatre to July 3

“I hate the audition process,” sighed provocateur-playwright David Mamet in a 2005 Los Angeles Times essay. “As an actor, I found it demeaning. As a writer and director, I find it damn near useless.”

It’s David Ives, not Mamet, whose fertile imagination begat Venus in Fur, a wickedly ingenious dark comedy that premiered in New York last year and has now arrived at the Studio Theatre in a new production that preserves its whip-smarts fully intact. But Mamet’s essay, “The Tyranny of the Audition,” could’ve contributed a perfectly descriptive moniker for Ives’s play had the latter not already borrowed the name of a scandalous 19th century German novella about a man who derives sexual pleasure from being abused. (If you already knew that the novella’s author’s name, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, is the origin of the term masochism, go to the the head of the class. And continue down the hall the principal’s office; we’re totally calling your parents.)

Ives’s intelligent design is not a straightforward adaptation of the novella. He presents us instead with a youngish, famous-ish, not-yet-rich theater artiste who’s trying to cast his new adaptation thereof. After a long day’s fruitless search for an age-appropriate, articulate and sexy “actress who can actually pronounce the word ‘degradation’ without a tutor,” playwright-director Thomas is surprised when a woman barges into his shabby studio from out of the rain, all self-flagellating apologies for showing up hours late for an audition he can’t even find on the schedule. He tries to blow her off but you know she’s going to read for him anyway, and if any ladies or actors or lady actors or anybody is getting vapors hearing such a brazen male wish-fulfillment scenario recounted, just you wait. As Vanda pries off her rain poncho to reveal her patent leather (or vinyl?) bondage gear — just wait, I said! — the balance of power between omnipotent creator and helpless actor has already begun its hypnotic migration across the stage. Continue reading