Venus in Fur
By David Ives
Directed by Tony Prince
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2016 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
Gerry Rose & Victoria Reibel in Venus in Fur. Photo courtesy of Liminal Playhouse.
To describe The Liminal Playhouse’s current production of Venus in Fur as an erotic thrill ride would simply be a great understatement. Heightened emotions and kinky role-play steer this production into such heady territory that any onlooker is left breathless by the rawness of the action set before them.
Don’t let the cold, fluorescent-lit audition space fool you into thinking this is simply a play about theater folks talking shop and reading lines. Gerry Rose and Victoria Reibel deliver unabashedly histrionic comedic performances that are wildly ferocious. Every sight gag involving large costume pieces from tiny bags is evenly paced, puns and word play are launched with a straight face and the landings stick every time. Even if you aren’t familiar with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s scandalous 19th Century tale of class and domination, director Tony Prince and his cast work well to capture the essence of the original story while presenting the action of the audition in real time.
A play within a play of sorts, Rose and Reibel dangle on an edge between artists in an audition and characters in a play with such vigor that the lines of reality and fiction are blurred. Victoria Reibel’s Vanda is a seductive actress doubling as a dominatrix, her strongest moments springing forth from her bold and potent sensuality. Her Vanda is a loud force of nature to be sure. Gerry Rose brings a phenomenal diversity to his portrayal of the frustrated playwright turned director, Thomas. Modeled after Severin in the original work, Rose’s performance is deliciously driven by libido and desire. Rose heightens the power struggle with Reibel’s Vanda within an emotional pendulum that is constantly swinging, from awe stricken submission to frustrated rage, resulting in a compelling conclusion.
You know you’ve done a good job with staging a play when audience members are vocal about how confused they are about the action yet all the more enthralled by what’s going to happen next. And The Liminal Playhouse’s Venus in Fur is nothing short of riveting.
Venus in Fur
November 10-20, 2016
The Liminal Playhouse
1031 South Sixth Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!