A play within a play challenges stereotypes.
Based on the novel that inspired the term ‘masochism’, David Ives’ Venus in Fur explores relations between the sexes, picking up a Tony award for its run on Broadway. The Indian adaptation is directed by Arjun Sajnani, with city thespians Susan George and Nakul Bhalla playing the male and female leads. With a cast of two, the action unfolds in a New York theatre, with director Thomas Novacek lamenting the lack of inspiring actresses who’ve come to audition for his play. Enter Vanda Jordan, whose confident performance takes him unawares.
“My shows are usually big ones, but this is a whole different feel,” shares Sajnani. “It’s been great fun tackling something that relies entirely on the content,” he says, explaining that the focus is solely on the dialogue, with no distractions in the form of extra characters, sets or costumes. Sajnani has been working on the script since October. “It’s a pure performance piece sustained over 90 minutes, with no interval,” he shares, noting that its intensity meant that he spent a lot of time thinking about how each and every word should be delivered, and trying to connect with the truth of what the playwright had written.
While the play might not have any ‘gimmicks’, its strength comes from the relevance of its themes, and the clever ways in which they are explored. “I was drawn to the script because of its noir humour, the fact it’s well-written, explores relationship dynamics and also has a theatrical context,” continues Sajnani. Explaining that by the end of the performance, the lines between the play and the play within the play are thoroughly blurred, he also shares that the power dynamics are constantly shifting. The director also promises that theatre-goers will leave the performance with a lot to think about. “The more I worked with it, the more profound I realised it was. A lot of people will go home and continue discussing the issues it raises,” he signs off.
Until January 18. At Ranga Shankara, JP Nagar. Tickets (`200) on bookmyshow.com
— Maegan Dobson Sippy