By: Patrick Phillips ~Staff Writer~
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park has begun running David Ives’ 2012 Tony nominee for Best Play, “Venus in Fur.” Composed of a perfect mixture of intelligence and sex appeal, the play has something to offer to everyone in the audience.
The play follows the story of Thomas, a playwright looking for the perfect actress to play the lead in his adaptation of a 19th century erotic novel.
As Thomas is packing up to leave the audition room, a bum¬bling, quirky actress named Vanda comes through the door. As the play continues, Vanda’s audition slowly becomes a dialogue about gender, power and seduction.
The interesting power dynamics at work in Ives’ play are ex¬pounded through allusions to Aphrodite and the Greek tragedy “The Bacchae.”
Much of the success of Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s production resides in the excel¬lent teamwork between PJ Sosko as Thomas and Greta Wolhrabe as Vanda.
Individually, Wolhrabe and Sosko were terrific.
The duo played off each other well, effectively portray¬ing the shifts in power necessary for the underlying theme of gender inequality.
Their chemistry created show-stopping scenes of sensuality that even the audience could feel, giving the play a voyeuristic quality.
Wolhrabe won the audience over the second she came onstage with her innocent, goofy charm.
Her quick transitions from blunt actress to talented performer were seamless, taking the audience by surprise and holding its attention. Her growing strength as the play progresses adeptly shows that there’s more to Vanda than meets the eye.
Sosko ’ s defensive Thomas was the perfect contrast to Wolhrabe’s up-front and occasionally confrontational Vanda.
Struggling to separate his own life from the erotic elements of his play, Sosko effectively infused a need to convince Vanda with his physical¬ity and vocal choices.
Vanda’s costume design was sexy and simple, giving her an irresistible air. The lighting and sound brought the dank audition room to life, with shocking lightning effects and spot-on phone call cues.
From the performances to the technical aspects, each element of the production was well-executed. With engaging, witty dialogue, excellent performances and a thought-provoking story, “Venus in Fur” is a must-see.
“Venus in Fur” runs April 19 to May 17 at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Student tickets cost $15.
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