The KTS production of Venus in Fur – written by David Ives and directed by Danielle Adessky – is a riveting, dramatic turn of character. The story of an actress and a director embodying the roles of a play within a play, Venus in Fur is all about moving, blurring and eventually breaking down the distinctions between reality and the stage as both characters get caught up in their own roles. The play delivers on every level. The direction is smart, the acting is on point, and the story leaves you wanting more. It explores the ideas behind dynamics of power, especially in relation to perceived gender roles, in a relevant and engaging way. All in all, Venus in Fur is a rousing success.
Before the play even starts, Adessky and her crew deserve credit for creating a strong atmosphere for the show. The three piece set is minimal: a divan on stage right, a radiator and pole setup at center, and a desk on stage left. These set pieces are all effective, as the action moves seamlessly over and through each of these pieces (of special note is the use of the pole at the end, but I won’t spoil that for you!). The lighting and sound are elegant and surprising, switching from an industrial whitewash for the audition scenes to a much more intimate purple for the play readings, interrupted by intermittent thunder strikes. None of it is over the top, and doesn’t distract in any way from the central dialogue.
Of course, there can be no discussion of Venus in Fur without the acting itself. As a two-person show, the amount of work and dedication to the character work is paramount, and Nick Harrison and Kari Teicher are more than up to the challenge. Harrison plays Thomas Novachek, a pretentious first-time director who quickly becomes enraptured by the performance of Vanda Jordan (Teicher). Although Harrison’s delivery near the beginning of the play is somewhat clipped and rushed, he certainly comes into his own around the time his character takes on his own persona. He is quite believable as a pedant, and Harrison really sells the various awkward neuroses that define his character. His performance grows over the course of the play as more of his character’s depths are explored. But it’s Teicher’s performance that really shines from start to finish. From the ditzy actress to the alluring performer, she embodies all of her roles to the hilt. She puts everything out there on stage, and her transformation over the course of the show is, for lack of a better word, grand.
I don’t want to discuss the ending of the play too much, but Danielle Adessky’s Venus in Fur is a sexy, suspenseful turn on the part of the KTS. With a run time of just over an hour without any intermission, it’s a great time investment. The show runs until Saturday, March 7th.