By David Ives
Directed by Carl Jordan
Produced by Gary Gonser
Marin Onstage
For tickets / schedule :
Belrose Theatre, San Rafael

RUN: May 6-21, 2016
RATING: 5 of 5 stars

(May 7, 2016)

Photo by Gary Gonser

Photo by Gary Gonser

Cloaked in sensuality, Venus in Fur explores the power dynamics between the sexes in a fluid give and take. An aspiring actress arrives to audition for a burned out director ready to go home, and a tug-of-war in dominance ignites, leaving the stage crackling with unspoken desires. The play premiered on Broadway in 2011, and evokes Classical tragedies, using the influence of primal gods such as Aphrodite in understanding human experience. Marin Onstage’s Venus in Fur is captivating with a dash of erotic humor, wrapping the audience in an expanding web, eager for more.

Melissa Claire as Vanda Jordan / Vanda von Dunayev sparkles with mystery and bravado blended into a riveting combination as she effortlessly sways between characters. Her transformation from ditsy chorus girl to an intelligent critic who tears apart the message of the play leads to a provocative denouement. Tyler McKenna as Thomas Novachek / Severin von Kushemski grounds the world as an ordinary man who finds his life peeled back before his eyes, powerless to resist it. They are expertly directed by Carl Jordan, who uses the intimate Belrose Theatre to advantage.

A powerful one act production, Venus in Fur demonstrates that dominance is a matter of perspective. In the audition, Vanda von Dunayev takes control of a scene, while Vanda Jordan is informed “It’s also an audition to see if you can take direction. Now stand there.” She turns the tables when the playwright loses his temper, demanding an apology, which he is forced to make out of courtesy. It is fascinating to watch the interchanges shifting back and forth like a dance. Venus in Fur is a sexy, intriguing evening, delving into the depths of what it means to be a man and woman.