Venus in Fur review

Theatre, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Natalie Dormer shines (in shiny boots of leather) in this preposterous Broadway comedy

If you really want to see Natalie Dormer in a rich array of kinky-by-numbers get-ups, then my god does this show deliver. David Ivess play, first seen on Broadway in 2011, feels like its almost entirely designed to showcase the talents of a female star in a sort of pre-watershed S&M storyline.
Its adapted from the 1870 Austrian novellaVenus in Furs which, like the Velvet Underground song it inspired, is awash withshiny shiny, shiny boots of leather and arch powerplay. But Ives has morphed the original into a kind of present-day audition room drama. Dormer plays Vanda, an actor whos hellbent on getting the lead role in an established playwrights adaptation of the story. Played with bland world-weariness by David Oakes, hes a bit of a sad sack: he doesnt trust anyone else to direct his work (always a bad sign) and genuinely believes that his source material is high literature.
Dormer unleashes a memorably powerful performance: she swaps adeptly between gauche ingenue and the controlled intensity of the dominatrix part shes reading for. Still, Im not sure how far Ives is satirising the tired trope of a pervy, controlling male director living out his fantasies on stage. Dormers character gets to call out some of his sexist assumptions, but her points are undermined by the truly ridiculous Noo Yoik accent shes been persuaded to adopt, and by her characters kittenish playfulness, spike heels and patent leather corset. 
Ultimately, her attempts to resist the time-dishonoured trope of the casting couch are outweighed by the outright sensuality of Patrick Marber’s production. It’s hugely funny, silly stuff, stuffed with nonsensical twist after twist, each one soundtracked by a clap of thunder. But a few weeks after the Weinstein revelations, is this really the story that the theatre industry needs? Heavens no.

By: Alice Saville



Users say (4)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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A truly captivating play from a fantastic cast of two. A powerful performance from the talented Natalie Dormer gets this dark/sexy/funny play to another level. Set in Manhattan, a young actress meets her soon-to-be director. The storyline slowly builds up and unexpected twists happen in their meeting. One of the first theatre plays that introduced S&M & masochism to theatre goers.

With being burnt out but desperate for a theatre fix, this play already won my heart by only being 90 minutes with no interval. I was amazed it was only two actors on the stage but wow, they delivered.

This dark comedy is actually very though provoking, looking into the idea of sub dom culture whilst in the 1800’s. What it covered could actually be brought into today’s society. It definitely joked about a very real topic.

I thought Natalie Dormer’s portrayal of both her characters was really epic and she seemed to have mastered both accents to the point I couldn’t work out which was her real one. David Oakes was also a great actor however I felt Natalie really shone through in this play.

A great play which gets you thinking.


Venus in Fur is not laden with dramatic music, infectious characters (there’s only two here), or an intricate storyline but it is lit up by the performance of a particular star.

Admit it, many watch Venus in Fur because of Natalie Dormer and my God does she deliver a hell of a performance, unleashing a memorably powerful performance between hapless Vanda (her character with a NYC accent) to an irresistible dominatrix. An undoubted star and it’s clear why she’s such a big deal all over the theatrical world. Poor David, her co-star, equally excellent on-stage but always going to be outshone by a Hollywood actress.

Lasting about 1 hour and 30 minutes without an interval, I have to admit, I can find other shows which I’d much prefer to watch. But for a masterclass in acting, Natalie Dormer delivers. If you want to watch, better hurry - it’s only at the Haymarket Theatre until December 2017.

This show was right on point with events happening in the world right now. It showed strength, feminism and power, whilst being so sexy and electric.

The chemistry between Dormer (Vanda) and Oakes (Novachek) was completely on point- you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. This just kept building from her unannounced appearance for an audition right to the awesome “right on” end.

I love Natalie Dormer anyway- but her acting in this was incredible- the way she snapped into her “audition character” and Vanda was amazing and THEN bringing in another accent too was so, so good.

The staging worked so well with the atmosphere of the piece (including the intermittent thunder claps and the moody lighting) and really helped build to the finale. There is no interval for the show, which is a perfect decision it just kept the crescendo going, absolutely no chance of any let up of chemistry for the audience.

A must see before the run ends!!

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