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Venus in Fur

Tuesday night, we braved the (very light) snow and went down to 13th Street to see Venus in Fur at the Classic Stage Company.

And I'm so glad we did.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect of a stage adaptation of Sacher-Masoch's classic S&M novel, to be honest.  Possibly titillating, possibly embarrassing.  Almost certainly slightly distasteful in its depiction of women as cruel and cold and yet somehow entirely focused on the formal humiliation of the suppliant male.

I was so wrong.  Venus in Fur is an intelligent, thoughtful, funny, and slightly disturbing study of power, gender politics, class, and who is really getting his needs met in a traditionally constructed S&M relationship.  It is also, in my opinion, a feminist play written by someone who understands that men and women are fully human, fallible, and moral creatures who don't always make the right choices even when they're genuinely trying to.

The argument of the play is the audition, by the playwright, of an actress to play the female lead in his adaptation of Sacher-Masoch's novel.  Anything more I say about what happens and why will reveal things you may not want revealed, so I won't say them.  Except that Nina Arianda (who plays Vanda, Vonda, and possibly Venus) displays an incredible range, from ditzy actress to goddess to playful girl.  And that Wes Bently (who plays the playwright and the Count in search of a goddess to worship) manages to be (believably) simultaneously vulnerable and arrogant, which is a neat trick.  They play beautifully off each other, too.

It was supposed to close this Sunday, but has been extended until March 28.  Tickets are available on TDF, and, since this is way Off-Broadway we're talking about, aren't all that pricey to begin with.  Go if you can.  It's a smart play.  It uses language well.  And, considering its subject matter and its undoubted hotness, is not at all blush-making.  All of which make it rare and precious and a thing to be encouraged.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
I do like when you review your theatrical experiences! I occasionally review Chicago shows for a few places, and I'm still pretty new at it. I think critique is important, but I have no formal training!

*polishes brains against your blog*
Feb. 19th, 2010 11:15 pm (UTC)
Why, thank you. Especially since I have no formal training, either--not in reviewing, anyway--and am pretty much making it up as I go along. Since I'm doing this primarily for my own amusement my only guideline is that I have fun doing it.
Feb. 20th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
I read the review in the New York Times...but I like yours better. I'd see this if it came to any city I was in. - Keyan
Feb. 20th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
Wow. You are a persuasive woman (which of course we already knew); but as you know it's no easy task to persuade me that I want to go out to see something in the live theater, where I will not be able to get up and fidget and run up and down stairs every few minutes.

But you, my dear, have managed it. I might have to look for tickets when I'm in town, and everything!
Feb. 20th, 2010 05:42 am (UTC)
Do come! I'll go with you, even - I'm dying to see it again, both to see how the actors play it on a different night, and to attempt to follow How He Does It.... I don't think simply reading the script (when it's finally published) will be quite enough; a lot of it's in the performance.
Feb. 20th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a Plan to me!
Feb. 20th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
Srsly? Nail dates ASAP then - insuring those in-demand tix & luxury suite at Hotel Chateau Riverside!
Feb. 20th, 2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
I am so envious...

Feb. 20th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
Hey, it's only a couple hours away by train, and you've got a free place to stay - so come!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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