With more and more revelations surfacing about sexual exploitation in the world of showbusiness, the new production of David Ives’ Venus in Fur at the Theatre Royal Haymarket couldn’t be more relevant.
Starring Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer alongside David Oakes (Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare in Love), the two-hander perfectly depicts the desperation felt by actors who may succumb to the casting couch in order to get on in the industry. But the clever twist in David Ives’ play (directed by Patrick Marber) is the shift of power during a seemingly typical process.
The play centres on an actress, who although late for an audition, convinces the director to allow her to perform and what follows is an intricate game of cat and mouse, which is surprisingly funny.
Dormer is wonderful as the somewhat boorish Vanda; seamlessly moving from a wise cracking New Yorker to the well spoken English rose, to which we are more accustomed. In fact, the transition is so seamless that I found my ears were struggling to auto tune to the vast difference in accent, which occurred sometimes mid sentence.
Oakes on the other hand provides us with a much more sedate role, grounding the performance and allowing for flow to the dialogue, although at times the sexual chemistry between the pair is so electric, it derails the pace of the action altogether.
At just 90 mins straight through, it’s a nippy night out, but one that’s well worth the trip.
Photo by Tristram Kenton