David Ives’ Venus in Fur, which had an acclaimed and multi-extended run at Studio Theatre earlier this year, opened on Broadway last night to strongly favorable critical response. Most of the reviewers’ attention focuses on the performance of Nina Arianda, who reprises her off-Broadway performance originating the role of aspiring actress Vanda. Vanda turns the tables on Thomas (Hugh Dancy), a writer-director staging an audition for an adaptation of a 19th century erotic novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (whose name gave rise to the term “masochism”).
Based on the reviews, Arianda can start dusting off a spot for a Tony Award. Charles Isherwood of the New York Times describes Arianda as “incandescent” and “electrifying,” stating that she gives “the first must-see performance of the Broadway season.”
Howard Shapiro of the Philadelphia Inquirer praises Arianda’s wide acting range, stating that she is a “disco ball of emotions” as she runs the gamut from scatterbrained ingenue to a powerful and controllling woman.
Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly states that Arianda has “the technique and raw talent of a young Meryl Streep, and she brings an energy, wit, intelligence, and sexiness that are stunning to behold.”
The role of Vanda is an excellent part for any talented actress. Erica Sullivan also won effustive praise for her work in the Studio Theatre production. DCTheatreScene critic Tim Treanor described her peformance as “astonishing,” terming it the best performance he had seen that year. Local theatregoers evidently agreed, voting Sullivan’s performance as their favorite by an actress in a DC area play in our Audience Choice Awards.
Venus in Fur is winning praise for other elements as well. Mark Kennedy of the Huffington Post describes Walter Bobbie’s direction of the play as “taut and dangerous” and states that Dancy’s performance in other role of the two-character drama is “first class.” Similarly, Ives is praised for the intelligence and depth of his script, as well as the humor.
Venus in Fur will be playing at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 West 47th Street, Manhattan through Dec. 18th.
Have you seen this production yet, or its previous Off-Broadway production? Let us know.