January 28, 2010

An audition can be a serious psychodrama, as any actor will tell you — probably at length, over a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon or a couple of dirty martinis. But the teeter-tottering test of wills that takes place in “Venus in Fur,” a tasty new comedy-drama by David Ives at the Classic Stage Company, makes even the most fraught encounter between a domineering director and a sensitive performer seem like a play date in the sandbox. Actors may be pleased to hear that in this 90 minutes of good, kinky fun, the upper hand does not necessarily belong to the usual suspect.


January 27, 2010

A young woman’s audition for a play takes some hysterical and some creepy turns in David Ives’ clever Venus in Fur, now playing at Classic Stage Company. And while such an exercise might not work in lesser hands, director Walter Bobbie’s excellently calibrated direction and two deliciously mercurial performances from Wes Bentley and Nina Arianda make this a delectable two-hander.


February 4, 2010

Some actors can do zany and others can do sexy, but few (Julie White, Jane Krakowksi) excel in both at the same time. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Nina Arianda? I won’t be the only reviewer to note that this young performer makes a smashing debut in David Ives’s deliciously Pirandellian two-hander Venus in Fur. Arianda (recently of NYU) has the rare ability to crank up romantic heat, then douse it in a cold comic bath. In the opening minutes of this modern riff on the 1870 erotic classic by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Arianda rocks a bustier-and-garters ensemble, all the while unspooling a daffy, oversharing monologue. Her saturnine costar, Wes Bentley, probably doesn’t know whether to stare or crack up.


January 26, 2010

David Ives ("New Jerusalem") and his collaborator, helmer Walter Bobbie, take all the fun out of sexual power games in "Venus in Fur" by talking the subject to death. Nice idea, adapting Leopold Sacher-Masoch’s erotic 1870 novel to a contempo Off Broadway theater audition — notoriously fertile ground for the sado-masochistic dynamic between director and actor. The wit breaks down, though, once Ives starts piling on plot contrivances to support the thematic parallels. Even more of a misfire, scribe allows his protagonist to dilate at insufferable length on his own cleverness. The boot and the whip are too good for this bore.



February 9, 2010

A new take on the classic erotic novel "Venus In Fur" is currently playing off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company. David Cote, contributing critic from Time Out New York, filed the following review. Some actors can do zany comedy and others can do sexy and serious, but few excel in both at the same time. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Nina Arianda. This young performer, a recent New York University grad, has been turning heads for her smashing debut in David Ives’ very clever and meta two-hander, "Venus In Fur."