“Venus in Fur,” the new production at the Goodman Theatre, contains a broad range of elements that leave an unexpected, striking endnote. Its romantic, Gothic, and comedic hints accommodate all tastes, and provide a multi-interpretative conclusion to be discussed at the dinner table.
The play isn’t your typical lovey-dovey soap opera, but rather a stimulating, provocative thriller that adds a twist to fateful lovers. With such an exhilarating demonstration of dominance, temptation, and ardor, “Venus in Fur” proves to entice the senses on both physical and psychological levels.
This adrenalizing production contains only two actors, who don’t need to bounce off other characters to intensify their electrifying chemistry.
The play opens as playwright Thomas (Rufus Collins) closes up the theatre after auditions for his new play, when Vanda (Amanda Drinkall) bursts into the building with a heart set on performing. Thomas allows Vanda to show off her talents after several minutes of desperate supplication, and watches the eccentric girl transform into an elegant and invigorating nineteenth-century noblewoman. The night passes on as the two reenact the entire play, subjecting their natures into a storm of sexual tensions.
Drinkall amazingly displays a split personality throughout the production. Her smooth switches from outlandish actress to mysterious seductress augment the play’s conflicting moods. She plays off the witty, charming Collins, who enriches the dialogue with his powerful demeanor. As their traits clashed, the conversation remained captivating and fast-paced—not one pause dulled the scene.
The lighting enhanced the histrionic setting. Fluorescent lights dimmed into various shades and glowing specters, creating a new, arousing atmosphere. With such a tantalizing display of glimmering rays, additional environments were not necessary.
Director Joanie Schultz not only wraps the audience in a coat of dark sexuality, but also compels them to unravel what’s hidden in the fur.