Theatre Review

Burbage’s ‘Venus In Fur’ is red hot


Burbage Theatre’s two-character play, “Venus in Fur,” is not only one red hot play, it is also the hottest ticket in Rhode Island.

Don’t miss David Ives’ funny, cerebral, clever, erotic, one-act play that will have you glued to the two characters for 90 intense minutes. Kate Kataja directs with precision, bringing the characters close to the audience and totally connected to them and each other.

Jeff Church plays Thomas Novachek, a playwright who is directing his own play adapted from an 1870 erotic novel.

The play opens with Thomas pacing the floor, which is cluttered with photos of actresses he has auditioned for the leading role, none of whom were acceptable.

As he is about to join his fiancée for dinner, a young actress barges in blabbing away about why she is late (although she is not on his list) and why she must try out for the role of Wanda. The role is that of a classy, sophisticated lady, and Vanda, whose name is similar, is just the opposite. Vanda (Valerie Westgate) comes on strong with her loud and shrill demeanor, finally wearing down and manipulating poor Thomas to let her read.

She convinces Thomas to read with her, and before long she is saying the lines with passion and from memory, interrupting at times with criticism and her feelings about the text. The brash, vulgar Vanda portrays the sophisticated Wanda like a schizophrenic, overpowering and seducing Thomas until the balance of power switches.

Church and Westgate play off each other, perfectly executing the intense, poetic dialogue between two fascinating characters. At times I wondered if Vanda was merely a figment of Thomas’ imagination.

Watching her step outside of her role and watching him being mesmerized and dominated by her makes for some of the best theatre I’ve seen in a long time.

“Venus in Fur” is one powerhouse of a play, both funny and cutting edge, with two performances that are worthy of awards for best actor and actress. The play is on a short run, closing on February 4.

Burbage is now located at 249 Roosevelt Ave. in Pawtucket, just down the street from Gamm. Check directions on their website at Call 484-0335 for reservations.


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