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Venus and Adonis

This is not the Shakespeare poem reimagined — this is a brand new work telling the saucy secret story of the woman rival to the bard.
By Orlaith Costello
September 15, 2023
By Orlaith Costello
September 15, 2023

in partnership with


If you loved Shakespeare in Love, this play from the celebrated theatre company, Sport for Jove, is your perfect dramatic affair. Venus and Adonis is making its theatrical debut at the Seymour Centre's Reginald Theatre from Friday, September 29, until Saturday, October 21, 2023.

The play centres on a trailblazing poet almost completely lost to history, Aemilia Lanyer (also known as Emilia Lanier). She was one of the first women in England to publish her own work and the first to have her full name on the title page of her own book. Many literary scholars believe that Lanyer is the famous "Dark Lady" referred to in Shakespeare's sonnets 127–152. These sonnets express Shakespeare's complex and passionate love affair with a woman described as having dark hair, skin and eyes.

However, in the plot of this original Australian drama, written and directed by notable playwright and Sport for Jove's Artistic Director Damien Ryan, Aemilia is a rival poet to the celebrated bard, who borrows her life and words on the path to becoming the most famous playwright of all time. Ryan's previous adaptions, Cyrano de Bergerac and Antigone, both won Sydney Theatre Awards for best production, so you can be assured of a dazzling spectacle.

The play is titled after one of Shakespeare's most famous narrative poems, which tells the tragic love story of the Roman goddess of love as she tries and fails to seduce the Greek figure, Adonis. The poem explores the dynamics of their passionate but ultimately tragic relationship. You can expect the play to bring some of those elements from the narrative poem to its storyline.

Tickets to Sport for Jove's theatrical production Venus and Adonis are available to book on the Seymour Centre website from $39 now. 

Images: Andre Vasquez, Kate Williams (rehearsal image)

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