Nina Arianda reprises her breakthrough role in the spicy "Venus in Fur." Time Out New York contributing critic David Cote filed the following review.
And now from death and tragedy to sex and comedy: Erotic thrill is not something you associate with Manhattan Theatre Club. The institution generally traffics in tidy living room dramas. But then, not every show has Nina Arianda swaggering about in garters, bustier and a leather choker. The sensational comic actress is currently reprising her breakthrough role in “Venus in Fur.”
Plenty of ink has already gushed over this gutsy newcomer, who burst onto the scene last year in the Classic Stage Company premiere of “Venus in Fur,” David Ives’s meta-adaptation of the 1870 novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the Austrian author who gave masochism its name. Arianda follows Venus to Broadway as Vanda, a daffy, mysterious actor who gives a last-minute nighttime audition for Thomas, a repressed writer-director trying to bring the novel to the stage.
Hugh Dancy has joined this production as Thomas and he’s a perfect match for Arianda, who first annoys, then seduces and finally dominates the deeply conflicted writer. For the Broadway transfer, director Walter Bobbie milks the script more; the action now clocks in about 10 minutes longer than it did at CSC. Although easing up on the accelerator gives us more time to savor the sensual-slapstick dance between dashing Dancy and ravishing Arianda, it also means the climactic 20 minutes—as gender and power positions sharply flip—can get overindulgent. Nevertheless, Arianda maintains terrific tension at all times, making us laugh even as we get hot under the collar.
As we head toward winter, temperatures may be dropping, but Arianda and Dancy are sure to keep things steamy well into December.