Set and Costume design for this brand new musical comedy commissioned by The MTA for their 1st years was designed by Bettina John. It premiered in the Bridewell Theatre in London in September 2015.
Two women start a dating agency which might work if they weren’t so desperately short of men to assign dates to. Meanwhile, in the world of gods, Venus thinks sex drives the world. Her sparky son Cupid says it’s romance. Thus begins a competition to see who is right. Lust versus love.
Bettina John and director, Pip Minnithorpe, were inspired by the simplistic depiction of romantic love in this play but also in the media, in movies, on post cards and adverts. Love seems reduced to symbols that work for occasions such as Valentines day. Bettina John created a two-dimensional world inspired by post cards and greeting cards. Red and pink, the colour commercially associated with love, are dominant in the design for this musical. The somewhat outdated use of theatre flats seems suddenly the most appropriate means for Bettina John’s bold and playful graphics. The theatre set seems like a fragile and surreal world of cards and flat imagery in which the protagonists stumble across surreal and absurd situations. References to reality tv and talkshows sets with a cabaret feel are made.
The costumes for Venus and Cupid, the two gods that dominate the mortal world in this play, are inspired by superheros. That adds to the surreal character of the musical.
Music written by Annemarie Lewis Thomas
Text by Nick Stimson
Lighting Design by Peter Small
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩ by http://musicaltheatrereview.com/musical-theatre-academy-the-venus-factor/#.VfVCr86QxJk
Photographs by Stephen White Berkeley and Bettina John