Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Venus in Fur

I watched Venus in Fur at the Royal Haymarket Theatre and I give it a 5/5 rating.

We had read reviews that suggest the play was just about average and that Natalie Dormer was good while the writing/flow has had its stumbles. We wondered if we should watch it just for Natalie Dormer. In the end, the fact that the play is only 90 minutes long won over and we ended up going.

Natalie Dormer was indeed brilliant and her co-actor David Oakes was only slightly behind her. The two-actor and one-set play might be underwhelming for some but the impeccable execution and the length of the play make it electric.

The sloping ceiling and bare set gives a feel of a derelict attic space to the set but the upward sloping floor gives the actors more room. Such that, even when the actors step back a few paces from the audience, their presence is not diminished.

I once again mentioned the length of the play because it's hard to keep the audience hooked for 2-3 hours, especially with little happening on stage but lines from the two actors. With the story being that of auditioning for a role in a play, the actors change "costumes" on stage and even set their own lighting (although the actual lightning is managed by production).

I wasn't aware of the plot of the play prior to watching it, or the book on which the play inside the play is based on. If I had known I would possibly have found the play that much more involving. I was hooked in any case.

An actor arrives late to an audition and insists on auditioning for the female lead role and requests the director and playwright to read the lines of the male lead role in the play. As they begin reading, it is rather clear whether she is reading the lines or expressing her opinion on the play with Natalie Dormer changing her accent and her personality between the heroine of the play and the struggling actor. The director only just reads the lines to start with but urged by the actor, he begins to play the lines as well. As they continue reading, the line between the character and the actor who plays it gets blurred until eventually the two become the characters themselves. The chemistry was phenomenal, helped by the lightning and thunder.