Be Prepared to Guess What's Going on in Venus in Fur at Main Street

“In 2013 Venus in Fur was the most produced play in America,” according to actor/director/producer Guy Roberts. “As soon as I read it, I realized that David Ives had written one of the great modern roles for women.”

So Roberts decided the work, based on the erotic novel Venus in Furs, was perfect for his Prague Shakespeare Company to do, which it did in both English and Czech-language versions. (According to Roberts, no jokes were lost in translation.) 

Now they're bringing the English version to Houston's Main Street Theater to once again tell the story of an aspiring actress and a director/playwright who's very full of himself.

Jessica Boone plays Vanda, the actress who seems to be one thing and then morphs into another and another during the 90-minute one act, in which she tries to get a job and then increasingly challenges the director. “The actress plays almost five different versions of people in the play,” says Roberts, who plays Thomas, the director. “My character is a young first-time director very full of himself; he's egotistical, he's arrogant, thinks he has everything figured out, and he's perhaps not a very nice person on the inside. “It's such a smart, well-written play that keeps the audience guessing what's going on.”

Boone and Roberts prepare for being onstage continuously with a pre-show ritual, he says. “We actually do the entire play about four hours before the performance every night.” Roberts also believes that his relationship with Boone in real life — “we are partners off stage” — adds something to the performance.

The Prague company, which has also teamed up with Main Street to present Shakepeare's Twelfth Night this month, has benefited greatly from its five-year association with the Houston theater in which productions have been done in both countries involving actors from both countries, Roberts says. “So many of Main Street's audiences have seen Jessica and I onstage in Shakespeare. We hope they'll come to see us in this.”

Performances are scheduled for January 14-24 at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday at Main Street Theater- Rice Village, 2540 Times Boulevard. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit mainstreettheater.com. $36-$39.

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