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You are here: Home Theatre Reviews & Features 2011-12 Reviews Broadway Review: VENUS IN FUR
Saturday, 12 November 2011 12:48

Broadway Review: VENUS IN FUR

Written by
Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda Photo: Joan Marcus

It is rare that a piece of theatre leaves you vibrating the way David Ives's Venus in Fur left me last evening.  Venus... is that perfect storm of talent that includes playwright Ives, director Walter Bobbie, and actors Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy.  Premiering to rave reviews last season, it has made an instant star of the the effervescent Arianda. 

As Vanda, Arianda gives one of those performances you will brag about having seen for years to come.  With this piece, she proves herself capable of handling any role the theatre (or any other medium) has to offer her.   (She can currently be seen in Brett Ratner's "Tower Heist".)  She made a huge splash when she appeared in Venus... last season Off-Broadway and was subsequently nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Born Yesterday.  Arianda's co-star, Hugh Dancy, is equally up to the challenge and matches her bravura performance.  

{module ad_left_body}The setting, by John Lee Beatty, is a bland looking audition studio that unfortunately allows the eyes to atrophy throughout the evening.  As the lights come up, Thomas (Dancy, as an author adopting the 19th century German novel "Venus in Fur" into a play) is on the phone railing against the quality (or lack thereof) of the 35 actresses they have seen for the lead role of Vanda.  "Young women can't even play feminine these days.  Half are dressed like hookers, the others, like dykes."

Ms. Arianda bursts through the door like the Tasmanian devil on speed.  She is late for her 2:15 appointment (that she may or may not have actually had.)  She is positively crazed; the word fuck coming out of her mouth every other word.  On the surface she appears to be everything that Thomas was railing against on the phone.  That immediately dissipates after she convinces Thomas to read with her.  When Thomas asks her if she has read the script, she replies I "kinda flipped through it quickly on the train."  On the surface she may seem like a ditsy blond.  But underneath that she is every bit the gritty, demanding and commanding actress the role requires.  As the evening progresses Thomas also discovers he’s not exactly the man he thought he was.  A major power shift takes place that is both intriguing and erotic.  

Ives reveals these characters slowly and methodically, bit by bit.    He facilely has them moving between their 19th Century alter egos and their present day selves.  This is facilitated brilliantly by director, Walter Bobbie, who has directed Venus... with such style and grace you might think you were at the ballet.  These two characters (four really) circle one another like prey being hunted.

Ives's script is witty and fast-paced and a true delight.  If there is a commercial producer out there with any sense, he would pick up this production (currently in a non-commercial run at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre)  and turn it into a commercial run.  If that doesn't happen, then you only have through December 18th to see this electrifying production.

Additional Info

  • Show Style: Musical
Last modified on Thursday, 09 July 2015 03:45