Erin McKenna and Matt Hollis Hulsey deliver a powerful performance.

Play is a ‘study of the erotic nature of power’

A dark theatre. An empty stage. A stormy night.

Writer-director Thomas Novachek sits alone, lamenting the inadequacies of the many actresses he has spent all day auditioning for the lead role in his new play. Based on an 1870 erotic novel, he needs a very special woman to play Vanda — someone with nuance, deep emotional understanding, and a special “talent” for the material.

Suddenly, at the last minute, a young woman named Wanda stumbles in out of the rain, wanting to audition. It’s hard to imagine her in the sophisticated role, however. She’s brash, vulgar, unschooled, far too desperate, and without any indication that she even knows what she’s auditioning for. But she manages to talk Thomas into letting her read with him for the part.

And everything changes. Wanda stuns and captivates Thomas with a miraculous transformation into precisely the character he’s looking for. She has apparently researched the role exhaustively, learned her lines by heart, and even has her own props. As Thomas reads the lines with her, her likeness proves to be more than skin deep, and the momentum builds as Thomas moves from attraction to obsession. The balance of power between director and actress begins to shift…and then the real fun starts.

Thus begins “Venus in Fur”, the latest David Ives masterpiece opening Wednesday, April 29 at the Red Barn Theatre for a four-week run, with performances Wednesday through Saturday nights, all curtains at 8 p.m.

Called “seriously smart and very funny” by the New York Times, and “mischievous, lip-smacking entertainment” by the Hollywood Reporter, “Venus in Fur” stars Erin McKenna and Matt Hollis Hulsey. The play is directed by Murphy Davis.

“Erin has always been one of our sexiest and most fun actors,” Davis said, “but this role for her is the perfect match of actress and part. She understands it on a visceral level, and people are going to see a side of her they’ve never seen before. She takes it to another level altogether. The same goes for Matt. Just wait ‘til you see them on stage together!”

While it would be easy to classify this new Ives play as a sexy farce, it is anything but. It is far more a study of the erotic nature of power and the wielding of it. Ives is exploring the subject thoroughly, and although there is nothing too sexual depicted on stage, there are certainly adult issues explored with adult language.

‘It’s a wonderful exploration into the funny, fragile, and fierce nature of the power dynamics between men and women,” director Davis said. “David Ives writes with big humor and deep insight into the mysteries of what makes men and women click. You’ll be talking about this one for quite a while.”

“Venus in Fur” scored a bunch of accolades in its recent Broadway run, including a nomination for the Best Play Tony Award, a Drama League Award for Distinguished Play, and a couple of Lucille Lortel Awards.

Tickets for “Venus in Fur” are available at or by calling 305-296-9911. There is a special reduced-price preview for $20 on Tuesday, April 28. Opening Night is the following evening, with a special Opening Night Party after the show catered by Three Fine Cooks in the Zabar Courtyard of the Red Barn, where ticket holders can mingle with cast and crew.


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