“Venus in Fur” at 2nd Story Theatre
This is a do not miss production, an intriguing play that is inventive and provocative.by Richard Pacheco, http://livetheatemass-ri.blogspot.com
“Venus in Fur” is a two-person play by David Ives set in modern New York City. The play had its premiere off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company in 2010 and on Broadway in 2011. The current production at 2nd Story sparkles with sheer brilliance, raw energy and is packed with laughter as well as being provocative.
Thomas Novachek is the writer-director of a new play opening in New York City; this play-within-the-play is an adaptation of the 1870 novel “Venus in Furs “by the Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and happens to be the novel that inspired the term Masochism. The play begins with Novachek on the telephone lamenting the inadequacies of the actresses who have showed up that day to audition for the lead character, Wanda von Dunayev. Suddenly, at the last minute, a new actress, Vanda Jordan, bursts in. Novachek is on the telephone lamenting the inadequacies of the actresses who have showed up that day to audition for the lead character,
Vanda Jordan, bursts in. and she is brash, vulgar and unschooled, but she convinces him to let her audition for the part of Wanda. The playwright will read the part of Severin von Kushemski. They both become caught up in the characters they are reading, often interchanging art and reality with unexpected consequences.
Richard Derry is Novachek, the playwright frustrated by the actresses who have thus far auditioned for him. He is frustrated by his efforts to audition a leading lady for the play, with no one seeming to measure up to his artistic needs. As he reads the part of Severin von Kushemski je becomes swept up in the play, at times merging his character with that of the character in the play. Derry is wonderful in the role, sheer brilliance as he deftly shifts back and forth between playwrights and character.
Lara Hakeem is the actress, Vanda, who arrives late for the audition. She is brash, vulgar and obnoxious, but also very sexy, sensual and provocative. She is outspoken and daring as a person and as an actress, very nervy and bold. She moves in and out of the role she is auditioning for and the actress at the audition with skill and finesse. She is audacious and inventive, full of energy and sassy. She alternates between the audacious actress and the sexy character with finesse, effortlessly being either seductive or brash ass needed. It is an impeccable performance.
The chemistry between the two is impressive at once vibrant and touching, inventive and provocative.
Ed Shea directs with zest and intelligence. He knows how to evoke the best from these two actors and does so consistently and robustly.
The set and lighting design by Max Ponticelli is right on target evoking the bare auditions space with the overhead skylights with skill and vision.
The costumes by Ron Cesario are perfect from her provocative dominatrix outfit to the coats he wears as the character in the play.
This is a do not miss production, one loaded with terrific acting and an intriguing play that is inventive and provocative.