Serenity Wild, playing at the 2017 SummerWorks Festival, is personally a highly anticipated show and one of the first ones I knew I had to see. As a member of the local BDSM and kink-positive community, I’m excited by the idea of media — be it books, television, movies or plays — that paint BDSM in the light that I’ve always known it to be: a place where consenting adults can explore desires. Serenity Wild promises exactly that.
Serenity Wild focuses on a couple — Amy (Julia Matias) and Liam (En Lai Mah). Liam is desperate to find the spark of life in Amy that he first fell in love with, but Amy is disconnected and listless. She has a laundry list of issues to attend to and re-igniting their sexual spark is not going to be easy. Liam’s gentle coaxing quickly turns into BDSM and rapidly gets carried away. Is Amy ready for this, is she prepared for this, does she even want this?
Having experienced Serenity Wild, I have come up with my own laundry list of things that worked for me, and things that did not.
Topping off the list of elements I loved is Matias’ performance, despite a couple of flubbed lines here and there, her performance is dynamic and engaging. You feel her desire and her frustration, and it resonates.
The chemistry between Matias and Mah ebbs and flows but when it flows, it’s hot. Very hot. In the scenes when they start to experiment with the rough and tumble, it does get pretty arousing. But, when it stops at an abrupt halt it’s almost disappointing but, indeed, very necessary. This is what almost always happens when kink is approached by parties who aren’t ready, or on the same page, and it’s vitally necessary to address the panic, hurt, and confusion that can arise from that.
And, of course, I love how the BDSM party is played out — yes, bring on the discussions of consent, boundaries, safety words, subspace, and aftercare! This is the BDSM world that I love.
On the other side, I found the writing to be overly verbose and flowery at times. Yes, Amy is a writer, but this kind of poetic language, especially in the way that Liam tries to seduce Amy, doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and certainly does not feel natural. It left me feeling disconnected.
There are six actors in the cast, and when they are not in the immediate scene, the other actors sit and mill around the background. They are often approaching centre stage to hand over a prop or move chairs in the set. Generally, they do this seamlessly, but there were times where it felt cumbersome.
Serenity Wild doesn’t have much of a set at all, and there were scenes that I felt could have been staged better to accommodate this. For instance, during the bathtub scene, in the beginning, I had no idea that these two fully dressed characters were sitting in a tub and wondered why random water sound effects played on the speaker until Matias mentioned being in a bathtub.
The scenes with Amy’s parents make me rather uncomfortable. Her mom (Terra Hazelton) is so lost in her dementia that she can hardly parent at all. To complement that, Amy’s father (Chy Ryan Spain) is horribly abusive in both the physical and sexual sense.
My discomfort lay with the simple fact that kink is often seen as the outlet for people with ‘damaged’ pasts (thanks for that Fifty Shades) and I was hoping that this performance would show that you don’t need to have a past with a history of abuse or assault to find kink. But then I saw how this horrifically damaged parental upbringing leads to Amy’s initial triggers with Liam first attempts at BDSM. I do wish that her parents’ situation had a resolution.
With Serenity Wild, what I enjoy about it does win over the parts that didn’t work for me. I need to commend Katie Sly for having written a story that is so honest in its portrayal of human relationships and the world of BDSM. Despite my hang ups, I’m very glad I experienced this.
- Sunday August 6th 7:30 pm – 8:45 pm
- Monday August 7th 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
- Tuesday August 8th 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm
- Thursday August 10th 9:45 pm – 11:00 pm
- Saturday August 12th 9:30 pm – 10:45 pm
- Sunday August 13th 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm
SummerWorks tickets are now Pay What You Decide at $15, $25, or $35, whichever suits your budget. All tickets are general admission and there are no limits to any price level. Tickets are available at the performance venue (cash only), online and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst Street). Open August 1-13 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted.
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 7 shows.
Audience Advisory: Mature subject matter, coarse language (Recommended for audiences 18+)
Photo by Katie Sly