Lara Hakeem Peels the Layers of ‘Venus in Fur’
'This is where my soul is.' - Lara Hakeemby Joe Seigel, Edge
Is she a frazzled actress with a punctuality problem, a commanding seductress hidden under an inconspicuous surface or a supernatural goddess of desire and destruction? Lara Hakeem plays all these things in one woman, as 2nd Story Theatre’s production of David Ives’ “Venus in Fur” continues into July.
“Venus in Fur” is a clever and darkly erotic psychological drama about a haggard director Thomas (Richard Derry), pressured to cast his stage adaptation of a classic sadomasochistic novel. Reluctantly, he auditions an equally desperate actress Vanda (played by Lara Hakeem).
As the pair reads through the script, the boundaries between reality and fantasy are crossed as the two enter a dangerous game of domination and submission that only one of them can win. Is Vanda playing a twisted game? The audience and Thomas are kept in the dark until the very last moments of the play.
“The dimensions of this character are absolutely amazing,” says Hakeem. “(Vanda) comes in with so many intentions which unfold through the course of the play. It’s like peeling an onion.”
Smoldering chemistry is vital for the actors in this two-header, and Hakeem enjoys working with her co-star who’s new to 2nd Story. Hakeem, on the other hand, has many show under her belt, including “The Lyons,” “The Marriage of Bette and Boo,” “Sylvia” and most recently “And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little.”
“I usually know everybody, and I know my comfort level going into a play. I actually think it was fun not to know (Derry) going into this — as intimate as this play is,” says Hakeem. “We’re kind of having that cat and mouse between us. Exploring the relationship as the play is being explored. With a smile she adds, “He a dedicated, committed and passionate actor.”
“We balance each other,” Hakeem continues. “As an actor, I can be a bit of a fireball and he’s grounded.”
Coming from a theatrical family, Hakeem has been in love with the theatre since she was a child. She recalls seeing her father go to rehearsals for various productions in the local community theatre. It’s only fitting that she carry on the family tradition.
“I’m really fortunate to get some great roles in a professional setting,” Hakeem said. “This is where my soul is. I can’t wait to see what’s next for me.”