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Venus in Fur

a Play
by David Ives

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 4499

SHOWING : September 04, 2013 - October 06, 2013



David Ives (All in the Timing) deliciously sexy comedy explodes on the Actors Express stage dripping with erotic, kinky fun. Vanda is a talented young actress who, despite arriving late for her audition, is determined to land the lead in a play based on a classic erotic novel. Her emotionally charged audition for the plays director becomes an electrifying game of cat and mouse in this steamy study of sex and power.

Director David Crowe
Assistant Stage Manager Meghan B Zern
Vanda Veronika Duerr
Thomas Adam Fristoe
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True West Carpathia
by playgoer
Sunday, September 22, 2013
David Ives’ "Venus in Fur" is populated not only by playwright/director Thomas Novachek (Adam Fristoe) and auditionee Vanda Jordan (Veronika Duerr), but by the two main characters in Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novella "Venus in Furs," not to mention the various personas Vanda tries on. As in Sam Shepard’s "True West," the two actors essentially switch personalities during the course of the show. It’s a neat, thought-provoking journey into sado-masochism.

Philip Male’s set embodies an industrial loft pressed into service as a low-budget audition room, with realistic pipes and a set of angled windows upstage, although it does not contain the fluorescent lights mentioned in the script. Mary Parker’s light design is magnificent, starting with shadows of the angled windows on the floor and morphing through a number of mood-setting variations. Elizabeth Rasmusson’s costuming requires only a few pieces, some modern-day and some 1870, but they are all well-chosen and well-fitted. This is a good-looking production.

A lot of the visual appeal of "Venus in Fur" comes from David Crowe’s direction, which moves action fluidly from spot to spot in the room, making use of chairs, two tables, a divan, and the bench of an otherwise-unused piano. Sightlines have to take into account audience on two sides of the rectangular rehearsal room, and Mr. Crowe’s blocking does just that. This is a very active two-person show.

Veronika Duerr’s performance is splendid, turning on a dime from a ditzy, foul-mouthed modern-day actress to an elegant 1870 noblewoman to a goddess with a German accent. The abruptness of the transitions provides a lot of the humor, and Ms. Duerr makes sure the audience immediately "gets" each transition. Adam Fristoe’s performance isn’t as flashy, but he does a fine job of portraying the acceptable, but less-than-stellar acting one would expect from a playwright/director. His final transition, as the roles of director/auditionee and mistress/slave are swapped, is perhaps not as successful as it might be, but it’s a fine line between believability and heightened realism. His performance is anchored in believability; I would have preferred something transcending that.

This intermissionless play is a tad too long. It packs a lot of material in, with discussions of "The Bacchae" and sexism and references to Greek and Roman gods intermingling with the adaptation of von Sacher-Masoch’s novella that is purportedly being readied for production. Mr. Ives created the script after first writing a straightforward adaptation of "Venus in Furs," and he may have felt the need to condense two acts’ worth of material into a single act. But too much fun for a single sitting is hardly a damning criticism. This production is a worthwhile way to spend a couple of hours. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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