Edge, Theater

Dominatrix, Internet billionaire require ‘Trust’ to bond

Niki Fridh (Prudence) and Nicholas Richberg (Harry) perform a scene in Zoetic Stage's production of "Trust."  // Photo Courtesy Justin Namon

Niki Fridh (Prudence) and Nicholas Richberg (Harry) perform a scene in Zoetic Stage’s production of “Trust.” // Photo Courtesy Justin Namon

Whips, chains, ties and red rooms have intrigued viewers of the series “Fifty Shades of Grey,” making the world of BDSM and domination a hot trend. Now with its 13th production, Zoetic Stage theatre company is bringing the world of a dominatrix to the stage in its production of “Trust,” playing at the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center through March 29.

University of Miami alumnus Nicholas Richberg plays Harry, a shy, nerdy guy who becomes an internet billionaire and has a seemingly wonderful life complete with a lovely wife and a nonprofit organization. After making it rich, however, he feels he has nothing to strive for and goes seeking excitement, which leads him to a dominatrix.

Harry realizes he knows her as Prudence (Niki Fridh) from high school, and asks her out for coffee.

Thus begins the complex, often steamy, journey of discovery for the four characters, Alex Alvarez as Morton, Gretchen Porro as Aleeza as well as Richberg and Fridh in their roles.

For Richberg, one of the challenges, “other than getting handcuffed and spanked,” was finding the arc of Harry’s story and making that clear.

“When I start with any character, my goal is to find what I like about the character because I, as the actor playing him, am his biggest champion,” he said.

Richberg recently worked with UM’s theatre department and students on the production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” for which he was nominated for a Carbonell Award for “Best Actor in a Play” – one of his two nominations for the 2015 round of the South Florida theatre awards.

Richberg is “especially happy” about that nomination because he wanted to represent all the students involved with the show because they worked “very hard.”

“They may still be in school but when we were on the stage together, everyone of them was 100 percent a professional,” Richberg said. “We were all equals on that stage. I was proud to share the stage with them every night.”

The ensemble for “Trust” is smaller than “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and Fridh was excited to share the stage with three “very strong” actors in this dark comedy.

When preparing for her role as a dominatrix, she found that her biggest challenge was not in embracing the character, but rather balancing the humor with the serious themes.

“It’s a pretty dark character, but there’s comedy in it too so the challenge has been mostly not going too dark and when the comedy is there to really kind of grasp hold of it and go with it,” she said.

Despite all the buzz surrounding it, one source Fridh did not draw inspiration from for her role was the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey.” She has never seen the movie or read the books, but notes that buzz surrounding the series “can’t hurt” when it comes to drawing in audiences.

Director Stuart Meltzer also hopes the buzz will help, as well as the fact that with its 13th production, Zoetic Stage is the most nominated theatre company in South Florida.

“The play is very risky or daring,” Meltzer said. “Right now it’s really connected to bringing forth this dominatrix and domination for sexual pleasure, which is becoming very hot – it’s the new vampire – and so that’s exciting for me and that’s actually I think what people will be excited about too.”

Meltzer feels that the show will work well in Miami, especially for younger audiences who will find they can relate to this desire to figure out their identity. He hopes through this production, they will enjoy a “different kind of theatre-going experience.”

“There’s a sexuality to the play that is exposed– it really talks about the psyche and sexuality,” he said. “I think that Miami is largely a town of sexuality… I do believe that that idea is one that can have audiences talking about their experience afterwards.”

Richberg also believes the show will resonate with a college audience because it is about someone who felt very isolated when he was younger and how Harry is still overcoming it in his thirties. For many people, college is a time when they move out, begin a new life and it can be a point in life when people feel isolated, Richberg said.

“The story is about … how important it is to reach out to people, what trust means and how we sort of get by in society,” Richberg said. “It’s also a really funny play. It’s pretty racy at times, it’s a lot of fun, a little bit off the walls sometimes, a little dirty and it’s a fun night.”

 

IF YOU GO

When: Through March 29

Where: Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center

For ticket information, visit arshtcenter.org.

March 8, 2015

Reporters

Ashley Martinez

Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, which have sharpened her people-watching skills. She has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, assistant editor and is now the Edge arts and entertainment editor at The Miami Hurricane. She serves as the president of UM's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre and singing show tunes.


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