Audio announcements and a note in the program request that audience members stay seated for all 90 minutes of Fur and not totter off to the restrooms since the actors need full backstage access during the performance.
No need to worry, Venus Theatre. The weirdness and kink of Migdalia Cruz’s 1995 play pretty much keeps you bolted to your seat throughout.
Perversity and obsession infuse the classic Beauty and the Beast myth in Cruz’s Fur, intensely staged at the Venus Theatre under the direction of Deborah Randall.
Randall also dons a low-cut gorilla suit to play Citrona, an extremely hirsute young woman who just wants people to look beyond the hairiness and see her for who she is and for her other talents, like knowing and singing every Beatles song there is.
Pet shop owner Michael (Grant Cloyd) has a fetish for animals (the furrier the better) and is only too happy to help, buying her from a sideshow to be his wife. However, Citrona doesn’t want anything to do with Michael, having fallen in love with Nena (Karin Rosnizeck), a beautiful animal trapper he hires to provide his prospective bride with fresh food.
Nena completes this unhappy love triangle, desiring only the uninterested Michael, who is actually repulsed by her smooth, hairless skin. The action in Fur concentrates mainly on the unrequited love—or lust may be more precise—of the characters, who become more unhinged and desperate as the play goes on.
In a female-centric twist, the power in Fur lies with the beastly Citrona, who holds sway over Michael and even Nena, who is both repelled and riveted by this grunting, singing, sexual creature.
Fur is plenty bizarre, from the bold, aberrant performances by the trio of actors to the sometimes hallucinatory quality of the sound, lights and staging. Contrast this to Citrona belting out Beatles songs, which also pop up in the sound design, and you wonder if you’ve embarked on a secondhand acid trip.
However, looking past the freak show kinkiness you begin to understand that Citrona’s not the only one in a cage. In reality, the other characters—and all of us, really—are imprisoned by our untoward desires and the agony they cause us.
Fur’s frenzied climax deviates from its fairytale roots. There can be no happily ever after for the obsessed.
Fur by Migdalia Cruz . Directed by Deborah Randall . Featuring Grant Cloyd, Deborah Randall, Karin Rosnizeck . Assistant Director: Amy Belschner-Rhodes . Lighting and Scenic Designer: Amy Belschner-Rhodes . Sound Designer: Neil McFadden. Props and costumes: Deborah Randall . Stage Management: Lydia Howard. Produced by Venus Theatre . Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.