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November 8, 2011

The No. 1 Reason To See: Venus in Fur

by Jesse North

venus in fur broadway poster nina arianda hugh dancyTables turn fast and frequent in David Ives’ new play Venus in Fur. When a down-on-her-luck actress, played masterfully by Nina Arianda, arrives for an audition for an impatient playwright/director (Hugh Dancy), she seems to be fighting a losing battle. However, as the two read through the play and its themes of dominance and misogyny blur the lines between the piece and reality, Vanda might be more in control than she originally let on.

The No. 1 Reason To See Venus in Fur: Nina Arianda’s commanding side
In her Broadway debut last season as Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday, Arianda dazzled as a bombshell simpleton who learns her self worth by discovering the world of education. Her performance, which earned Arianda a Tony nomination for Best Actress, conveyed comedic feistiness, but it was a sort of strength that suggested she could be subjugated by a man’s raised voice (mostly Jim Belushi’s, as the blustery Harry Brock). In Venus in Fur, we see an immensely powerful side of Arianda. Her Vanda conveys helplessness and a young girl’s coy giggle in the beginning. Yet it’s all revealed as an act as she expertly manipulates Dancy’s Thomas into engaging in an extended audition with her, and anything else she wants. Arianda seamlessly transitions between the dominating character she’s playing in this play within a play (don’t get confused now—or is that the point?) and the ever-growing strength of Vanda. Arianda slips beautifully into the corset of confidence, danger, and power—and it’s seductive to watch.

Venus in Fur student rush policy: Beginning when the box office opens, up to two tickets may be purchased for $27 each with valid student ID.

venus in fur broadway nina arianda hugh dancy

Photo: Joan Marcus

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