Will the Arms of Venus in Fur Reach to London? The Players Muse on Re-Opening Night

News   Will the Arms of Venus in Fur Reach to London? The Players Muse on Re-Opening Night
Venus in Fur, David Ives' steamy battle-of-the-sexes comedy-drama with Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy, snuggled into Broadway's Lyceum Theatre on Feb. 7 for a commercial run at least to June 17. It's the acclaimed title's third and most permanent New York City engagement, but, already, producers and agents are apparently scouting around for new horizons.

Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy
Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy Photo by Joan Marcus

Just ask the play's director, Walter Bobbie. "Our commercial producers, Scott Landis and Jon [B. Platt], are very connected in London," he pointed out. "They have several colleagues they work with regularly both there and here who are principally British producers, so it's not unlikely that something will happen. I have no specific news, except people are talking about doing this."

Given the subject matter — a playwright and his potential star emote their way across the kinky, erotic turf he adapted from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's 1870 tale — London is, in Bobbie's view, a logical destination: "I think this play will be very well received by a British audience. They just love the slap-and-tickle business."

For now, he thinks the play is sitting pretty at the Lyceum. "It's interesting to do a play which is a spin on a Victorian novella in a Victorian playhouse [the theatre opened in 1903]. As a young man, I came to see the A.P.A. — Ellis Rabb's company — in that theatre. I've worked as an actor or as a director in so many Broadway houses, and I always wanted to get into the Lyceum. I remember coming there and seeing You Can't Take It With You with young Rosemary Harris and Ellis Rabb and a whole wonderful cast, seeing it for two dollars in the second balcony. And to sit there now, directing Ives' play there, was great."

Platt, who dutifully followed the play from its Off-Broadway run at Classic Stage Company to its limited Broadway run at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (a Manhattan Theatre Club presentation) to its present place of operation, agreed: "It is where it has always wanted to be. This theatre is perfect for it. It's dark, it's got that Gothic feel to it, that dungeon-y feel."

Author Ives has bigger prospects than Britain dancing before him right now. "The new frontier is Germany, Italy, France, Scandinavia, Argentina, Hungary, Mexico — all those places are interested in the play," the dramatist said. "They all want the play. They're translating as we speak. London is actually up to my producers, so all that will happen in time." Since Ariandas don't come in bunches like bananas, it's not unreasonable to expect that she and the English-born Dancy will reprise their Pygmalion parts in London.

Critic Ben Brantley, in his New York Times rave review last November, called her star-making work "the first must-see performance of the Broadway season, a bravura turn that burns so brightly you can almost feel the heat on your face."

The actress has been waving away other jobs to concentrate on this complex role, which seems to ask her to do one of everything. She said, "I think it's an actor's dream. It's just candy, it really is. People wait for a part like this to come around, and it just doesn't, but David gave us the opportunity — me, especially — and I'm very, very grateful.

"I've been focusing exclusively on this. This is very important. We've spent a couple of years now, hoping for this moment, and, if I weren't dedicating myself fully to it, it would be a shame. I'm very much in this world right now."

Her sparring partner for the evening, Dancy, admitted he was drained as well, but, he shrugged, "That's the job." His is the reactive role, and he's constantly returning serves. "I'm still coming to terms with this guy, in some ways. I like characters who are figuring out who they are in front of the audience, and he certainly is. I'm not sure he has necessarily come to any conclusion by the end of the night, but he has been taken on this extreme leap — and I enjoy that every night, one way or another."

Claire Danes, a Golden Globe victor for her "Homeland" series last month, was very much present and in hubby Dancy's corner, just outside the paparazzi line of fire.

She was pretty much the extent of the star power attending the re-opening—but the instantaneous, enthusiastic ovation greeting the stars was identical to the opening.

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