Theatre

Venus As A Boy @ Soho Theatre, London



adapted by
Tam Dean Burn
Does the G in G spot stand for God spot? Some say it does, and that at the moment of orgasm, when your mind goes blank, and bliss ripples through your entire body, what you are experiencing is the perfect peace and euphoria of divine love.

The ability of sex to truly take you to heaven and back is the premise behind Luke Sutherlands novella Venus as a Boy, which has been adapted for the stage by, and also stars, the extraordinary Tam Dean Burn.

Venus recounts the life of Desiree, a rent boy, with a gift so potent that when he makes love, the orgasms are such that through them you catch a glimpse of paradise. Dean Burn, as this latter day cupid, is a mesmerising performer, able to keep the audiences attention rapt as he takes on character after character in this heady one hander. He is an excellent narrator and his Scots burr is part Lewis Carroll lullaby part Begbies threatening menace.

As a soujourn into the sex industry, this is not a pretty picaresque, and we first meet Desiree as he lies dying in his soho flat, turning gold and lamenting that ‘true love was never going to be my reward.’

His is a story peppered with characters who life has brutalised. Sutherlands own experience of racism in 1980s Scotland features in this story that trips down from the desolate hills of Orkney, taking Desiree through Edinburgh, Glasgow, and on into Sohos seedy streets in the early 1990s.

It is a tale that mixes magical realism with the all too grubby fiction in a graphic loss of innocence that sees Desiree encounter a Nazi pimp who cajoules the young boy into the sex trade, a profession that leads him to the flamboyant post-op transsexual, Wendy, who is his ultimate undoing.

Venus As A Boy is one man’s way of infusing beauty into a life that is not the soft landing that childhood prepared him for. It tackles the big subjects, the desire to connect with other people, and to know and feel a love equal to that which we offer up.

Sutherland’s specially composed music adds so much to this play, and his on stage prescence hems the production back into reality, and adds an effectively ambigious note to the fact vs fabrication quotient in this narrative.

This modern day tale, which explodes the myth surrounding the power of love, received rave reviews at this year’s Edinburgh festival and is being given the motion picture treatment by Film Four, so expect something, equally poignant and intricately beautiful when this heart wrenching novella hits the silver screen.



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