“Venus in Fur,” written in real life by David Ives and with this production directed by Rod Rich, zeroes in on a frustrated producer/director/writer, Thomas (Tony Lea), who is having trouble finding the perfect woman to cast in his play. Based on a sadomasochist novel, his play is all about a man who becomes a slave to a woman until the tables turn, and she becomes a slave to him. Obviously, he wants someone demure yet sexual to play the part, and the young woman who walks in, hours late and swearing profusely, is not at all what he had in mind…that is until she opens her mouth as an actress.
Vanda (Diana Cameron McQueen) swears she was born to play the role. She also swears a lot in general, throwing out bawdy profanities peppered with lots of “likes” and “whatevers.” McQueen really shines in this role, managing to be pluckily charming and offensive all at the same time. On the flip side, however, she is able to slip into the prissy, well-spoken character of Wanda with ease, which wins over both real-life viewers and the character of Thomas. Indeed, some of the show’s best moments come when Vanda moves in and out of character with lightning-fast speed and accuracy.
The real-life script, alas, is not without its problems. Most of the “action” involves Vanda and Thomas reading from the make-believe script, which is entertaining at first but quickly grows tiresome. And while the false script is meant to mirror their real life interactions in a subtle and oh-so-brilliant way, every detail and every should-be-subtle nuance is so dragged out and overdone that the writing loses strength, and the viewers feel as though the “smart message” has been hammered into their heads repeatedly. The costumes are also unflattering and thus distracting, though some distraction is welcome during this seems-longer-than-it-is show. The lighting, however, by Joshua C. Allen, is effective, and there are even some nice sound effects- lighting and rain- thrown in.
While there are definitely some smart, funny, and even welcomingly startling moments within the show, it ultimately comes off as overly dense, long-winded, and trying a little too hard to be “shocking,” feministic, and “cool.”
Actors Comedy Lab and Raleigh Little Theatre presents VENUS IN FUR at 8 p.m. Jan. 22-24, 3 and 8 p.m. Jan. 25, 8 p.m. Jan. 29-31, and 3 p.m. Feb. 1 in RLT‘s Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $22 ($18 students and seniors 62+).
BOX OFFICE: 919-821-3111 or https://raleighlittletheatre.secure.force.com/.
SHOW: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/14-15/venus.html and https://www.facebook.com/events/866684006688198/.
Actors Comedy Lab: http://www.actorscomedylab.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Actors-Comedy-Lab/201926916520429.
Raleigh Little Theatre: http://www.raleighlittletheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/RaleighLittleTheatre, https://twitter.com/RLT1936, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleigh_Little_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/raleighlittletheatre.
RLT‘S 2014-15 SEASON: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/14-15/index.html.
NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices are available for all shows.
NOTE 2: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25th, performance.
NOTE 3: Raleigh Little Theatre is partnering with North Carolina Museum of Art Contemporaries to present a wine tasting and show for young professionals, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29th, in the lobby of RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre. The Wine Feed will furnish the wines, and the Baguettaboutit gourmet food truck will be parked outside the theater from 6 to 8 p.m. for anyone wishing to purchase food. For details, click here.
Venus in Fur (2010 Off-Broadway and 20111 Broadway comedy): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=4298 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=490532 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_in_Fur (Wikipedia).
David Ives (Chicago, IL-born playwright and screenwriter): https://www.playscripts.com/playwrights/bios/445 (Playscripts, Inc.), http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=9621 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0412328/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Ives (Wikipedia).
Rod Rich (Raleigh, NC director): https://www.facebook.com/rod.rich.33 (Facebook page).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.