John Lahr, The New Yorker’s principal drama critic, wrote a long article last year about a brilliant young actress, Nina Arianda, who, at the time, was electrifying audiences in the off-Broadway production of Venus in Fur, a sexy, funny, deep, even disturbing play written by David Ives.
When the play moved to Broadway, it didn’t lose a bit of its sizzle.
In the play, Vanda (Arianda), late, frazzled, looking like a cheap hooker, arrives in a rehearsal hall to audition for a part in a play written by Thomas (Hugh Dancy), a modern-day, presumably second-rate playwright who’s had no luck whatsoever finding a leading lady for his play,
The play Thomas has written, based on the novella Venus in Furs by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, is likely one he doesn’t fully understand, even though he’s the playwright.
As the audition unfolds, line by line through Thomas’ script, as well as in the sparkling “off script” conversation and sexual fireworks between Vanda and Thomas, Vanda not only reveals its meaning, she emerges triumphant.
Telling you more about Venus in Fur would be telling you too much.
It’s worth noting, I think, that during casting for the original off-Broadway production, according to Lahr’s article, one of the people involved in the show wrote a note after Arianda’s name: “DTW” (direct to wardrobe).
Just a few hours ago, the Tony Award nominees were announced.
Behind Arianda’s name on my scorecard would be “DITS/APWTIH” (direct to Tony stage/after-party with Tony in hand).
I haven’t seen the performances of the other nominees—Tracie Bennett (End of the Rainbow), Stockard Channing (Other Desert Cities), Linda Lavin (The Lyons) and Cynthia Nixon (Wit)—but I absolutely can’t imagine Arianda not winning.
I was riveted by her performance when I saw the show. So were critics when it opened in November.
Go see the show. Here’s a video that’ll give you a taste of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtiyqU21Gvs