note: entire contents copyright 2014 by Sheila Barth
It may be cold outside, but actors Andrea Syglowski and Chris Kipiniak push the heat up to exotic climes at Boston University Theatre in David Ives‘ two-person hit, comedy, “Venus in Fur”. Ives based his play about love, sex, power and domination on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 erotic novel, “Venus in Furs,” which was scandalous stuff in its day, and, yes, led to the term masochism’s inclusion in the dictionary.
Ives‘ ironic play-within-a-play doesn’t appeal to everybody, and is confusing at times to theatergoers as the two actors read and enact the playwright’s script. But that’s on purpose. Ives and director Daniel Goldstein skillfully blur fantasy and reality to keep theatergoers’ attention riveted to the stage.
Amid sound designer Darron L. West and lighting designer M.L. Geiger’s strategically struck thunderclaps and storm rumblings, Chris Kipiniak portraying director-playwright Thomas and Andrea Syglowski as auditioning-mysterious actress, Vanda, traipse from playacting to reality as their reading intensifies, becoming more emotionally- and erotically -charged.
Hours after Thomas has auditioned 35 would-be actresses to play the main role in his play, he’s discouraged, ready to wrap it up, when a ditsy, persistent blonde whirlwind sweeps into his drab rehearsal site, (wonderfully understated by Matt Saunders). She blathers about, dropping F bombs, because she’s so late, refusing to take no for an answer. Laden down with a huge bag of costumes and props, Vanda drops her clothing to reveal sexy, black leather and lingerie, a dog collar, and stockings, insisting she’s the right one for the part.
But Thomas insists he must leave. The day has been long and disappointing, and he wants out of there. Besides, he’s meeting his fiancee for dinner.
Thus begins a duel and duality of the sexes, a transformative exchange between these two characters in which Vanda shocks and amazes Thomas with her amazing, “magnificent” talent and knowledge of his script. She’s not only prepared with costumes, props, a battery of accents, (especially the necessary German), but she has sensational stage sense. Vanda and Thomas switch back and forth, from actor to director, as she becomes more forceful, dominating, directorial, and he’s willingly submissive.
Like so many plays written about goddesses who transcend to Earth and become the male ideal woman, Vanda is more earthy, with her salty language and street smarts; yet, there’s something more timeless, more netherworldly about her, punctuated by the storm’s attack and recession during key scenes.
Naturally, there’s a surprising twist. Of course, I won’t reveal it. Syglowski and Kipiniak’s chemistry, especially in some of their erotic and domination exchanges, is too exciting to miss.
BOX INFO: One-act, 90-minute, Broadway sexy hit comedy by David Ives, appearing with Huntington Theatre Company, through Feb. 2, at Boston University Theatre, Avenue of the Arts, 264 Huntington Ave., Boston. Performances: Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 2,8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Tickets start at $25; seniors, $5 discount; subscribers, BU Community, $10 off; patrons 35 years old and younger, $25; students and military personnel with valid ID, $15. Call the Box Office at 617-266-0800 or visit huntingtontheatre.org.