Review: ‘A nippy night out’ ★★★ Venus in Fur, Theatre Royal Haymarket

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.

Venus in Fur is at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 9 December.

Photo by Tristram Kenton

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Natalie Dormer and David Oakes to star in Venus in Fur, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Natalie Dormer and David Oakes will star in the West End premiere of David Ives’ hit Broadway play Venus in Fur this autumn for a strictly limited nine week engagement at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Enigmatic actress Vanda Jordan appears unannounced for an audition with director Thomas Novachek. She’s determined to land the leading role in his new production – despite seeming wrong for the part. Over one evening in downtown Manhattan their charged meeting becomes a seductive dance to the end.

Directed by Patrick Marber, designed by Rob Howell with lighting by Hugh Vanstone and casting by Executive Producer Ilene Starger, Venus In Fur is an intoxicating dark comedy of desire, fantasy and the innate love of fur.

Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormar will join David Oakes in Vebus in Fur at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Natalie Dormer is to play Vanda Jordan. Dormer is known globally for film and television roles including Margaery Tyrell in HBO series Game of Thrones, Anne Boleyn in The Tudors for ShowtimeCressida in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2, Focus Features’ The Forest, Ron Howard’s Rush, and Ridley Scott’s The Counselor.  Upcoming, Dormer stars opposite Sean Penn and Mel Gibson in The Professor and the Mad Man, and the independent thriller In Darkness, which she also co-wrote.

David Oakes is best known for portraying Juan Borgia in the Emmy Award-winning Showtime Original series The Borgias, for playing William Hamleigh in Emmy Award-winning mini-series The Pillars of the Earth, for BBC’s The White Queen in the role of George, Duke of Clarence and, most recently, on screen as Prince Ernest in ITV’s Victoria, for which he is currently filming the second series. Stage credits include Kit Marlowe in Shakespeare In Love (Nöel Coward Theatre) and Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). Oakes will also appear in the film adaptation of Albert Sánchez Piñol’s thriller Cold Skin set for release later this year.

An adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novel Venus in Furs that inspired the term masochism, Venus in Fur was first performed off-Broadway, New York in 2010 with Nina Arianda and Wes Bentley, before transferring to the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway with Nina Arianda reprising the role of Vanda Jordan alongside Hugh Dancy as Thomas Novachek. Both productions were directed by Walter Bobbie and won Arianda multiple awards including the 2011/12 Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play. In 2012, Roman Polanski directed a film version of the play, in French, starring Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric.

The critically-acclaimed two-hander will run from 6 October to 9 December