Ives updates the action, transporting it to downtown Manhattan where writer-director Thomas has come to the end of a long day of frustratingly unsatisfactory auditions to find a “beautiful, sexy, articulate” female to play the lead in his own rewrite of the 19th century sadomasochistic tale. Just as he’s about to head off, in bursts Vanda – a brash, seemingly completely unsuitable New York actress who demands to be seen.

In the course of the 90 minutes of this rather preposterous two-hander – complete with the crash of thunder and flashes of lightning – the power balance is overturned as Vanda reveals not only an unexpected talent and knowledge of the role she wants to play, but a considerable amount of flesh as well.

In a reversal of the classic casting couch scenario, David Oakes’s unremarkable Thomas becomes progressively enthralled by the scantily clad Vanda in her provocative stockings, shiny black corset and thigh length boots – as, quite likely, will a substantial proportion of the audience.

Director Patrick Marber does what he can to add dramatic flourishes to a rather unsatisfactory play (given an additional unanticipated edge in the light of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and others in the industry), but the evening belongs to Dormer – sharp, seductive and a supremely confident vivacious tease, her Vanda knows what she wants and sure as hell is going to get it.

Theatre Royal Haymarket

Haymarket, SW1Y 4HT

Until 9th December 2017 

£15.00 – £65.00 + premium seats

VenusOnStage.com