The first words that catch one’s eye when scanning the description of Venus in Fur on Jungle Theater’s website: erotic, sexual, desire.
Now, that can either turn you on or turn you off, if you will. Those who are more conservative might think the show is too vulgar for their taste, and dismiss it as frivolous—an offense to the “art of theatre.” Those who are more adventurous have probably already seen the show….more than once.
I’m here to tell you that this is a show anyone can enjoy. Yes, even your mom. Or grandpa. (Maybe leave the kiddies at home, though.)
Here’s why: This is some of the best acting you’ll see all year. No exaggeration. (I took my friend who is extremely picky when it comes to entertainment of any kind, and she left saying it was the best theater she’d ever seen.) Sure, the plot is a bit scandalous. Thomas (Peter Christian Hansen) is a playwright who’s written an adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s erotic novella, Venus in Furs. In simple terms: he’s adapted a novel about S&M, considered pornographic in its day. Thomas is trying to find the perfect Vanda (Anna Sundberg) and is about to give up on auditioning women when Sundberg walks in, her New York accent, sexy lingerie, and naive actress-in-distress act working overtime. Vanda convinces Thomas to read with her, and as soon as he does, he’s done for—what little power he had at the start of the audition slowly shifts to Vanda, ramping up to a steamy surprise ending. Flirting, seduction, twists, tension: it’s all there in full.
The show runs the risk of being unbelievable and crass, and in anyone’s hands but director and set designer Joel Sass, it might have been. But what really makes the show soar is Hansen and Sundberg’s chemistry. Here are two of the hottest, most talented young actors in town, and they get each other. Really, really well. Add Sundberg’s keen comedic timing to the mix, and it’s no wonder this show is selling out faster than seats at the nearby World Street Kitchen are filling up.
The Twin Cities are known for having great theater—I know this better than most. So trust me when I say this show isn’t great, it’s superb. If you can get your hands on a ticket, do. Shows like this don’t come around often, even here.
Venus in Fur
Through March 10
Jungle Theater, 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls.