Imagine the sexiest woman you can, with the curves of Marilyn Monroe, the humor of Tina Fey and the sexual energy of a pubescent teenage boy. This is Vanda (played by Amanda Drinkall) in the new play being performed at the Goodman Theatre.
“Venus in Fur” opens as Vanda enters a small, empty apartment to audition for a play. Her characterization begins immediately, as her huge voice carries and she peels off her overpowering fur coat, exposing a sexy, black leather skirt, corset, stockings and thigh-high boots. She somehow persuades the director (played by Rufus Collins) to allow her to audition, although she has missed her audition time by hours. As she begins reading, her character transforms into a classy, dignified form — the polar opposite of Vanda. This polarization allows the show to brilliantly change moods at a constant and quick rate, keeping the audience engaged and excited.
Surprisingly, only two actors — Vanda and the director — create the large mixture of emotions displayed in this play. Their chemistry, which is palpable throughout the entire hour and a half, is electric. They somehow make the audience feel as if there are 20 actors on stage, not just two.
The plot, beyond the beginning, is hard to explain. Its complexity is only fully understood when one sits directly in the audience (which I strongly suggest every person do). The themes of love, dominance, sexism and relationships in general are extremely prevalent throughout the entire show, weaving a production that forces one to think about the way we approach our lives. The control and domination on stage constantly switches between Vanda and the director, in both their real lives and their play characters, forming a complex relationship that reflects the real world. It, too, keeps audience members on their feet, forcing one to guess and then second guess every move and motive on stage.
The set, designed by Todd Rosenthal, also enhances the atmosphere of romance and intimacy, while at the same time being slightly barren and meaningless, reflecting the many moods audience members feel throughout the production.
Although a fantastic play, “Venus in Fur” is very racy throughout, and broaches highly sexual topics. Because of this, parents should only bring their mature teens to this show.
There is no play better than one which excites the mind and dazzles the soul, both of which “Venus in Fur” does masterfully.