Thursday, October 03, 2013
Actor's Express' "Venus in Fur" is a good fit!
The visit to Actor's Express on Sunday was sublime...."Venus in Fur", a play-within-a-play, features the kind of sex-as-power one can expect from the Southeast's edgiest Theatre group. Indeed, the vibe is verrry "Oleanna"-ish. In that David Mamet play, the power struggle results from both mis-communication, and a distinct inequity between the two people, because one is an older male professor, the other, a young female-- and presumably powerless-- student. In "Venus in Fur", by David Ives, the two characters are more evenly matched; they are both theatre-people, and both NEED each other. She needs the role; he needs to fill the role. One is a young actress, but one who longs to "take charge" of her career/private life/anyone she desires; the other, an older male director, but a director who longs to act, as we quickly discover in his repartee' with her. The story centers around a director who's adapted a play--ostensibly about S/M; I'd argue this is much, much more about D/S (Dominance/Submission for you "vanillas" out there), and who yearns to produce it, if only he can find the perfect "Vonda"...Enter Veronika Duerr's Wanda, a whirling dervish of an actress-cum-lately, spinning into the room with a dizzying rapidity of speech, and just a touch of ditzy-ness, which we soon discover belies an intensity Wanda seldom feels comfortable, showing. When she morphs into Vonda, the character in the play she is auditioning for, there is a palpable delight in the audience, as we root for her to get. that. role....and laughter abounds as Ms. Duerr transitions (often within 10 seconds or so), between the two entities. Adam Fristoe's Tom, is, conversely, slow and sensual. His Tom-into-Severin (the character he must read opposite Wanda/Vonda)parries Ms. Duerr's creations, with aplomb and grace. What's fascinating is how Director David Crowe has orchestrated the explosive climax(es) to reflect a mirror-image of the character's respective traits. Once the seduction begins, it is she who slowly, skillfully, and, cunningly as a(sex)kitten, manipulates the suddenly-quick, and unnerved Tom, into a situation they both begin to relish. The two eventually switch roles, and the gender-reversal is hilarious, and, quirky-sexy. It's very demanding to be onstage for the entire 95 minutes, but both actors are up for this game. And their kitten-and-prey game is steamy, and even a teeny-bit kinky. The set is intimate, such that we feel less "voyeur", more participant; the music provides a bit of foreshadowing, and the light changes, often introduced by Vonda, are intriguing, suggestive of another time, another place, and set us up for the sensuality that follows. This is a definite-GO-SEE, as is often the case with Actor's Express. Hurry, because THIS WEEKEND IS THE FINAL WEEKEND. Gratuitous "foot"-note: If you're into legs, and thigh-high boots, and/or submissive men, this is your show. Contact Actor's Express Box Office, at: (404)875-1606