Playwright David Ives is best known for light and very funny comedies. His most popular work by far is "All in the Timing," a collection of one-act plays that could be considered skits.
His reputation may be changing. Ives' "Venus in Fur," which is next up from Asolo Repertory Theatre, is a steamy comic drama, far from the unabashed silliness of "All in the Timing."
The play takes its name from a classic 19th-century novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. The term "masochism" comes from his name, and because of the novel, which is about a man who draws a woman into a relationship in which she welds absolute power over him.
In Ives's play, a playwright-director is adapting the novel and has been auditioning actresses for the stage adaptation. He's not been happy with any of them. Then one apparently flighty actress comes into audition. He tells her auditions are over, but she ends up completely overpowering him psychologically in a way that parallels the relationship in the novel.
The comic drama was one of the most highly regarded plays of the 2012 Broadway season. Some New York critics called it the best play of the year, and hailed it as much for its intelligence as for its comedy.
The Asolo Rep production features Sarah Nealis, a newcomer to the company, and Scott Kerms, who played Liron in "The Innocents" last season. Tea Alagic directs.
Details: April 5-28, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: Tickets are $25-$40. Call 941-351-8000 or visit www.asolorep.org.
-- Marty Clear