As I write this two days after watching the opening-night performance of Venus in Fur at the Salt Lake Acting Company, I'm still turning the play over and over in my mind, considering its themes of power and sex from every potential angle and struggling to reach any over-arching conclusions.
Consider that a great reason to check out the complex play penned by David Ives and opening the 43rd year at SLAC. Ives' rip-roaring way with dialogue and the two actors' deft handing of ever-changing accents, emotions and narrative threads make it easy for the audience to dive right in and revel in the story of a playwright/director and the impromptu audition of an unexpected visitor in his bare-bones office.
About those actors--Marza Warsinske (as aspiring actress Vanda) and Patrick Kintz (as the playwright Thomas) both deliver powerhouse, multi-faceted performances. As the only two characters in Venus in Fur, talented actors obviously are necessary to carry the 90-plus minutes on stage. Then you must consider that the play you're watching, Venus in Fur, contains many scenes of a play within the play requiring Eastern European accents from both, and you quickly come to appreciate how well Masinske and Kintz handle the tricky twists Ives packed into his script.
I'm not going reveal much about those twists, except to say Vanda proves to be much more than simply an actress who showed up way late for an audition at Thomas's office. She somehow has an intimate knowledge of both his play and his personal life, and she spends the play pushing buttons that make Thomas confront just how much of his play is based on an old favorite book, and how much it is a reflection of himself.
It's a blast to watch the sparring between the two characters, and uncomfortable at times as the jokes that fill much of the initial stages of the one-act play give way to a psycho-sexual showdown that leaves you juggling all sorts of questions as you exit the theater. Director Tracy Callahan paces the action nicely--despite the fact there are two characters on one set throughout, there is action--and Venus in Fur proves an excellent way to start the season for SLAC.
Venus in Fur runs through Oct. 27. Tickets and showtimes are available at SLAC's website. Photos courtesy of Salt Lake Acting Company.