Venus in Fur
Curious Theatre Company: 5/3 – 6/14
Left to right: Karen Slack and Brett Aune
Go for the heightened awareness of malaise and imminent danger in this harsh unfriendly world full of shadows and smoke in which a playwright/director playing God to a seemingly innocuous late-coming auditioner gets the tables turned on him making him her worshipping footstool.
Although I felt sure that Curious Theatre’s production of the successful off Broadway show about sado-masochism in the world of the theatre would be a favorite of mine I was at least partially wrong.
Ms. Slack (Vanda) and Mr. Aune (Thomas) are both superb actors. However … there is a lack of chemistry in their onstage relationship in this show. As a result this reviewer found himself more caught up in the enthralling technical virtuosity of the production.
Ms. Slack is especially engaging in the lightning-quick transitions between her grasping, needy wannabe-cast actress and the 19th century character she reads in the audition.
Aune’s nonchalance in the delivery of the playwright/director’s humorous phone monologue at the top of the play is hilariously delivered. His acquiescing to read the script opposite Vanda in her audition feels too quickly won.
If you look closely you can literally see Chip Walton’s directorial choices as far as the beats in which he incrementally moves these characters in the downward spiral towards the inevitable dominance/submission and er climax. In these moments there is almost a nano-second suspended in time that could stop the action and instead propels it forward.
The lighting, scenic and sound designs are in a word, formidable.
Shannon McKinney’s lighting design with its external flashes of lightning accompanied by sound designer Jason Ducat’s crashing thunder creates an ominous ambience. McKinney’s lighting of the interior creates just the right amount of murkiness for an eerily shadowy foreboding. Michael Duran’s scenic design is just enough off-center to give us the creeps because of its intentional imbalance and claustrophobic feel.