Philadelphia Theatre Company Launches David Ives’ 'Venus in Fur'

Mark Alhadeff and Jenni Putney in Venus in Fur, Philadelphia Theatre Company - Photo Credit Frank Wojciechowski
Mark Alhadeff and Jenni Putney in Venus in Fur

David Ives’ bleakly comic Venus in Fur earned two Tony Award nominations (with a win for Best Actress) and two Drama League nominations during its 2011 Broadway run. Now, after having already produced two of his plays (All in the Timing and a world premiere for The Lives of the Saints), the Philadelphia Theatre Company opened their Venus in Fur on May 30, with its run extending until June 24.

Venus in Fur is a black comedy – very black – about an audition for a play whose text comes from a book that came from another book, each with increasingly twisted takes on sexuality and sensuality. Taken from Ritter von Leopold Sacher-Masoch’s literary classic Venus in Furs (which itself stemmed from Histoire D'O, Suivi de Retour A Roissy by Pauline Reage), Venus in Fur represents another in a series of Ives’ works that are dexterous in their language, quirky in their invention, as well as furiously and caustically humorous. No wonder Stephen Sondheim picked Ives as a collaborator for his first new musical in a decade.

In this two-person theater piece, Ives pits an ambitious, adroit actress (the character of “Vanda”) against a smugly rambunctious and demanding stage director (“Thomas”), and cattily turns the tables on their roles while blurring the lines between apparition and the absolute. Where did this loud and brazen actress come from as she wasn’t on the audition sheets and has such a tiny resume? Who does this playwright think he is, insulting all of womanhood by turning, then blaming, his main character into a co-dependent shrew? Kip Fagen coolly directs Venus in Fur's exceptional cast, Jenni Putney and Mark Alhadeff, through this silly, smart and sexually charged head trip. Don’t be surprised if you want to see it again just to make certain you heard what you did. I do.

Venus in Fur runs until June 23 at The Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S Broad Street, Philadelphia PA, 215.985.0420. For more info:

Photo Credit: Frank Wojciechowski