Venus in Fur

Venus in Fur, currently onstage at the Alley Theatre, is a 95-minute, one-act, two-actor play based on the erotic novel Venus in Furs, which reportedly inspired an Austrian psychiatrist to coin the term “masochism” after its author’s last name (Leopold von Sacher-Masoch). In it, a young actress named Vanda (Nicole Rodenburg, making her Alley debut) desperate to get the lead in a play goes toe-to-toe with tough playwright-director Thomas (Michael Bakkensen, who did Ether Dome at the Alley last season). Brandon Weinbrenner, the Alley Theatre’s resident assistant director, will be making his directorial debut in this piece, which he stresses is a comedy, although not one for younger children. “It goes to a dark place with S&M, but it’s still a comedy,” he says. As he worked with the actors, he explains, “First it was grasping the ideas and concepts from the novel. And then it was seeing how we could apply them to this kooky world that [playwright] David Ives has set for us and then seeing how this world morphs into something that the audience wasn’t expecting and Thomas wasn’t expecting.”

Alley Artistic Director Gregory Boyd, who saw the play off-Broadway before it moved to Broadway, where it was a Tony Awards® nominee for Best Play, said this is a great leap forward in the work being done by Ives. “Venus in Fur is stuck in this wonderful metaphor of the theater,” Boyd says. “Any of us who’ve spent time in this work spent a lot of time in audition rooms or rehearsal rooms, where this play is set. He’s really kind of turning it all on its head by saying, ‘We don’t really know where the power in the room is.’”

7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through November 10. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $25 to $75.
Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2:30 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Oct. 11. Continues through Nov. 10, 2013

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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