By Sarah Davis
Last night, the Actors’ Theatre production Venus in Fur, directed by Michelle Urbane, opened at Grand Rapids Community College’s Spectrum Theater.
In the play, rain softly tinkles on director Thomas’s office window, when in steps anything but softly-spoken Vanda, played by Ellie Frances, with an umbrella. She’s come to desperately audition for the part of Wanda von Dunayev in Thomas’ play, Venus in Furs.
Thomas, played by Kyle Los, reads through the script of his erotic 19th century play alongside Vanda for her audition. She has an mysterious understanding of the very play Thomas wrote, and uncommon similarities to the character she is playing as well. Soon it becomes all too obvious that this dynamic duo, actress and director, both fall snugly into the romance they are acting out. Vonda, who once was begging for the part, now has Thomas auditioning to be her suitor.
Venus In Fur seamlessly transitions from present day to 1870. However, the audience may be confused by the intricately woven time lapse.
This play features a small cast of only two. The set is muted with a backdrop of brick and exposed pipes, yet Vanda’s costumes, ranging from Victorian garb to racy lingerie get-ups, enliven the scene. Although risque and devious, this play delves into deeper issues of gender and power in an insightful way.