Misha Bouvion takes on Shakespeare’s epic poem Venus and Adonis in a one-woman theatrical production presented by The New Circle Artists, Saturdays through May 11. Bouvion’s lusty interpretation of the text vacillates between boldly erotic and laugh-out-loud funny as she portrays the goddess of love, spurned by a young mortal hunter who prefers the love of the hunt to the sexual advances of a goddess.
The story is a twist on Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which Adonis returned Venus’ affection and became her longtime lover. Here he resists her advances, and in Shakespeare’s day, the role reversal was a huge hit with audiences. His narrative is filled with explicit language and descriptive passages that drive Venus onward in her pursuit of the handsome Adonis. But the more she persists, the more he resists, and her unwavering determination to conquer him results in endless opportunities for humor, as is often the case with love.
Shakespeare wrote the poem in 1593 for Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton, during a period of time that saw the theaters in London closed due to an outbreak of the plague. It was a scary time for everyone and a little diversion in the form of an erotic tale may have been just what the doctor ordered to take their minds off the devastating effects of the Black Death.
David Mancini directs Bouvion in Venus and Adonis. Together they have created a version of the tale that moves passionately through the double entendre-laden text with confidence. Bouvion pouts and prods, at times temperamental like a teenager driven by the newly discovered urges of her body; at others, artfully enticing like a voluptuous temptress.
The monochromatic color palette features Bouvion dressed in a flowing white gown on a stage covered in yards of ivory fabric that could just as easily pass for the clouds upon which the gods reside even as it suggests the forests of the glen. Surrounded by the white walls of the ISC Studio, it is a simple and lovely transformation that immediately takes the audience into the world of the ethereal. Bouvion then becomes the artist painting the scenes with Shakespeare’s words as the audience watches it come to life.
The production succeeds in taking a lesser known work of Shakespeare and vividly reinventing it for the stage. Bouvion dives headlong into the sensuality of the text and delivers a spirited performance that plays to the poem’s inherent comedy. It will especially appeal to a younger generation of theatregoers and anyone who likes their theatre a little spicy and provocative.
VENUS AND ADONIS
April 20 & 27, May 4 & 11, 2013
Adapted and Starring Misha Bouvion
Directed by David Mancini
Pay What You Can at the door
Presented in ISC’s Atwater Village Studio
3191 Casitas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90039