Tag Archives: David Ives

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Intimate Apparel: The Panties, the Profit, and The Partner, reviewed.

Kimberly Gilbert, Carson Elrod, and Turna Mete in The Profit. (Carol Rosegg)

For your Washington City Paper, I reviewed The Panties, the Profit, and the Purse—a series of linked David Ives comedies adapted, with shrinking fidelity, from a trilogy by the 19th century German social critic Carl Sternheim. That sounds awfully highbrow, doesn’t it? Ives is better at farce than at satire, and the show is a better document of what he likes than what he thinks. I liked it, but I’d like it more if Ives would—in the words of the 21st century social critic Boots Riley—”Sho[his]Ass.” As it were.

New Jerusalem, reviewed

Strain & Tolaydo in Theater J's NEW JERUSALEM.

I’ll just go ahead and admit I hadn’t heard of Baruch de Spinoza, or hadn’t remembered his name from Philosophy 101 a million years ago. But David Ives’s Venus in Fur was, I think, the best play I saw in DC last year, so when I had the opportunity to catch Theater J’s current remount of their 2010 production of Ives’s New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza, I fairly jumped at the chance.

You, Narcissus: DC’s theater of theater

Christian Conn and Erica Sullivan in VENUS IN FUR. (SCOTT SUCHMAN/Studio Theater)

What was the Number One Topic under consideration by DC theaters in 2011? Why, the theater, of course.

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