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Forestburgh Playhouse

A Dark and Tempting “Venus in Fur”

Bill Moloney - Columnist
Posted 8/30/19

The Forestburgh Playhouse wraps up its fantastic 2019 season with an intensely smart dark comedy play written by David Ives. It did a short Broadway stint in 2011 and garnered a few Tonys in the …

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Forestburgh Playhouse

A Dark and Tempting “Venus in Fur”

Posted

The Forestburgh Playhouse wraps up its fantastic 2019 season with an intensely smart dark comedy play written by David Ives. It did a short Broadway stint in 2011 and garnered a few Tonys in the process. The script is incredibly well written, thus making the no intermission 90 minute production whiz by in a flash. The intimacy of the playhouse is the perfect setting for this mysteriously erotic two-performer cat and mouse project.

Venus in Fur is a play within a play that opens with a thunder clap and the moans and groans of a director desperately trying to find the right actress for his play. At the end of a long, frustrating day of auditioning 35 useless actresses, Tom is about to pack it in when a rain drenched Vanda blows in like a tornado begging the director to give her a chance to audition. He is immediately discouraged and turned off by her brash and vulgar demeanor as well as the scantily clad outfit she thinks works for the role. Using every excuse imaginable, Vanda convinces Tom to let her read three pages from the script. In no time flat, Vanda impresses him in the role, but proceeds to question everything about the play. Clever manipulation starts to switch the roles of power and soon the audition turns into much more.

Jason Babinsky as the unfulfilled director and Caroline Kingsley as the steamy, yet intellectual Vanda start out comically fumbling about each other, but soon their interactions melt into a ritualistic predator-prey type dance that tests the boundaries of their craft, their personal lives and their very beliefs. There's a unique chemistry here that makes this particular piece come to life.

Mr. Babinsky's Tom is clearly a man who thinks he's in charge, but this actor's subtly played doubts bring about real confusion and then alarm that we, the audience, share with him. His unwitting change into perplexed desperation plays so well towards the show's climax.

Without a doubt, Ms. Kingsley has the role that Wows! As Vanda, she struts around in raincoat, leather, lace, frills and boots and goes from commoner to commander. She seems to always be at the brink of explosion; at the precipice of some onslaught. At first bumbling and trivial, she throws out the one liners of an air headed, down and out actress. But as the tables soon turn, she springs from simple to slave master and all the while maintaining that David Ives comedy with out of character comments that punch laughs from our gut.

Matt Lenz's delicate direction resonates throughout the whole of the production. A deft touch that combined savvy and slick tech with the passion of a couple theatrical pros makes this production a win-win!

This enthralling play blurs the lines created by gender, power and to whom who we, as people, answer.

IF YOU'RE GOING:

Where: The Forestbugh Playhouse

When: August 27 through September 1, 2019

How to Get Tickets: Visit fbplayhouse.org or call 845-794-1194.

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