Monday, March 19, 2012

Venus in Fur Blogger Night

I first saw Venus in Fur off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company over two years ago. I saw it again in December towards the end of its Manhattan Theatre Club run at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Last week, I returned to the show for a blogger night in its new home at the Lyceum Theatre where it has now settled in for a commercial run.

The show itself hasn't changed much since its initial run--I believe playwright David Ives has stated that he hasn't changed a word of the dialogue. But every performance I've seen has had a different actor in the role of Thomas--the writer/director who has adapted Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs into a play. Arianda plays Vanda, an actress auditioning for the lead role. The role of Thomas is usually played by Hugh Dancy, a huge improvement from Bentley who played the role off-Broadway. At the blogger night performance, Dancy's understudy Mark Alhadeff went on, and his performance was somewhere in between Bentley's and Dancy's. Alhadeff couldn't quite keep up with Arianda the way Dancy does and their chemistry wasn't as strong. However, I'm not sure it's really fair to compare the two. Maybe with more stage time, he will gain more confidence in the role.

Though I'm still not a fan of the ending, the play is just as entertaining the third time around. What struck me most this time around was the audience reaction. There was much more laughter than the other times I've seen it. It's a funny play, but there are also some quiet moments that kept getting big laughs. It could be that particular night or maybe it's a regular occurrence in the larger house, but it made me think about other Broadway shows that used to frequently get inappropriate laughs, such as Melchior beating Wendla in Spring Awakening. Anybody have any other examples, especially when a show has transferred?

Photo credit: Joan Marcus


Mildly Bitter said...

Not quite on point, but I noticed some people complaining at intermission at Death of a Salesman about the laughter and suggesting people didn't understand the play...but I had read that Isherwood column that said Miller didn't understand why people were not laughing at times when he intended them to.

Linda said...

Yeah, I was sort of worried about coming across like I was accusing people of not understanding the play, and I don't know if that's really fair. I guess people should be able to react however they want to react, but it can still be distracting if it seems out of place.

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing..