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Theater Review: ‘Venus’ In Sherman Definitely Worth Seeing

Published: February 22, 2019 at 07:45 am

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SHERMAN — Venus in Fur, a highly charged piece that explores the most basic of erotic instincts that are evoked through art, is on stage at the Sherman Playhouse.

In the two-person drama by David Ives, audiences are challenged to consider: Can simply acting a part make it real? In Director Katherine Almquist’s rendition of this play-within-a-play, it does.

Thomas (played by Chris Luongo) is a frustrated playwright struggling to cast his version of a play based on the actual 19th Century novel by Leopold von Sacher-Mosach. The word masochism was derived from the author’s name in reference to this novel, which is a powerful indicator of the subject matter.

After a trying afternoon of auditions during which he was completely unable to identify a suitable actress, Thomas is about to close up his office. In rushes a late and breathless Vanda (Agnes Fohn), an actress bearing a bucketload of excuses for her tardiness and bags of accoutrements for the character she desires to play.

Thomas finally agrees to let her read the first three pages of dialogue, reading opposite her.

Surprised and curious about the depth of knowledge and insight Vanda bears, Thomas continues to read. Soon they are hellbound for a dark place where reality is distorted and fantasy blurs the lines.

Agnes Fohn, who is returning to the stage after a ten-year absence, is superb. Brave and brazen, she owns this character and all of her secrets, which lie close to the surface yet are never fully obvious.

As she moves back and forth between her three characters, she instantly resets their mannerisms, bringing singular identities to each. With her character’s sexual confidence and freedom on full display, Ms Fohn is a powerhouse in this role.

As her baffled and studied counterpart, Mr Luongo’s Thomas is subdued and compliant. His performance is steadfast as his character’s efforts to control the situation unravel.

A complete contrast to the intensity of Vanda, Mr Luongo lets his character slide down a very slippery slope, offering the most modest of objections. His Thomas is putty in Vanda’s hands. He is a solid antidote to the oncoming train that is Vanda.

The set by Al Chiapetta creates the perfect blend of shabby New York City audition space and a confining room in which primal instincts cannot be evaded. This is very good theater, and it is definitely worth seeing.

Performances continue weekends through March 3. Curtain is Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, with Sunday matinees scheduled for February 24 and March 3 at 2 pm.

Visit shermanplayers.org or call 860-354-3622 for reservations or additional information. Audiences should note, the Sherman Players are advising that this is a production for mature audiences.

 

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