Sep 16

Alberta Theatre Projects ‘Venus in Fur’ is not quite enough

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments


Alberta Theatre Projects season opener Venus in Fur is a two stories in one. They switch back and forth, interweave until one blurs into the other. The play opens to Thomas (Tim Campbell) talking on the phone to his fiancee, telling her that the auditions that he is running for the production of his play, which is an adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus is Furs are all terrible.

In walks in Vanda (Amanda Lisman), a half hour late who seems to be unfit for the part. She is vulgar and seemingly uneducated. She flipped through the script while on the train and begs Thomas for an audition for the part.

It is at this point that the play starts to pull things apart within the narrative that the audience assumed from the beginning. You assume you know both characters on stage. A young actress, completely all over the place who won’t be able to pull off the role. A director who is sturdy and knows exactly what he’s looking for in an actress. As the narratives melt together, questions and conflict starts to arise. Who is dominating whom? Who has the power?

The production does a good job of keeping the thread of the two stories and interchanging them. It keeps your attention, that audience is engaged in drawing a conclusion from the story. It seems that Venus in Fur stops short of the climax. It discusses the exchange of power and delves into the complexities of power, but it doesn’t do much else.

The play comes to it conclusion and the audience is left with a feeling of, ‘oh, that’s it?’ It may be that this production featured a good performance from Lisman, but that Campbell didn’t put all the cards on the table. Maybe with a stronger male lead, the narrative with end with a satisfying, mysterious snap. But in the end, though Lisman switching between accents and evolving from completely annoying to intriguingly complicated is compelling, it isn’t quite enough. Venus in Fur is not quite enough.

Alberta Theatre Projects Venus in Fur runs until September 27. More information is available online.

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