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Venus in Fur

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  610 ratings  ·  71 reviews
A young playwright, Thomas, has written an adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus in Fur by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (after whom the term “masochism” was coined); the novel is the story of an obsessive adulterous relationship between a man and the mistress to whom he becomes enslaved. At the end of a long day in which the actresses Thomas auditions fail to impress him, in wal ...more
Paperback, 84 pages
Published November 30th 2011 by Northwestern University Press
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Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeWaiting for Godot by Samuel BeckettA Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Goodreads Top 100 Stage Plays of All Time
139th out of 291 books — 241 voters
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg LarssonFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Books I Read in 2011
75th out of 275 books — 26 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,095)
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Rachelle Urist
We saw it in NY. Cast: Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy. The acting was riveting - as is the script. I read it after seeing it, and it gets better and better with each read. It's cerebral and campy at once, with the female character in the get ups of, alternately, a call girl, an 1870's virgin - prim and proper, and a dominatrix, she's been around the block a few times and can outwit any male who dares tell her how to behave.

I'm a huge fan of Hugh Dancy, and of his real-life wife, Claire Danes, so w
Nina Soden
I have been reading and re-reading this play for the past few months, as I am playing the part of Vanda at a local theatre company. In my research, and through the rehearsal process, I have found it amazing that EVERY line has a meaning. David Ives took great care when writing this play. The way the characters dance around the stage, trading power and commanding control, is beautiful.
Emily Yelencich
I saw Venus in Fur this weekend and immediately bought a copy. While I have seen and felt connected to many plays, it is a rare occasion to experience one that speaks so loudly and coherently to a version of powerful femininity.

Within the first third of the play, Vanda (as Dunayev) declares her "principles" that at any given time, much less the turn of the century era that the play-within-the-play is written in, would be thought of as somewhat radical for a woman to profess. She wants “love wit
Shantanu Akash
First and foremost, I start writing this review thanking my little Russian sadist-type friend Barbara Pankova . She is the one, who suggested me this book while I was still reading Chuck Palahniuk’s short story entitled "Guts”. Somehow this book is, by far, to me, the most ‘different’ ( as I’d like to call it) book I’ve ever read. This book will surely leave a distant mark on your imagination.

Now, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (The term masochism is derived from his name.) is almost solely known for
I can totally see why Nina Ariande won the Tony for her work in this piece. Holy Crap the ending was so not what I expected! I'm glad I read the original novel on which this is based, it just added so much more to the reading of this intriguing piece. I don't won't to say to much, for fear of giving the ending away.
A playwright stays late after an unsuccessful night of auditioning actresses for the lead in his adaptation of Venus in Fur. In walks Vanda, a hot mess, who turns out to have quite the handle on the role and, later, the playwright himself. Who is she?

An interesting two-hander. The dynamics of power are explored at length. This play is very meta, and that sometimes pulled me out of the flow, but I still think it has life - dark energy. It was a quick read.

From the clips I'm seeing online of the
Gregory Knapp


Hold on to your joints, Gentlemen.

Suggested pre-reading (aside from the von Sacher-Masoch novel which I don't think is necessary because the play gives you everything from it that is needful): The Bacchae by Euripides.

Great production at the Goodman March-April '14:

After attending the Goodman production two nights in a row I think this is the best play I have seen since I saw John Malkovich and Joan Allen in Burn This on Broadway in 1988.
Paul Hoehn
I saw this play with a professor who hated it, but I thought it was both entertaining and provocative. I'm not sure how I felt about the ending -- does Vanda become the very type of female character she so despises? If so, is this a rejection of her (admittedly simplistic) feminist criticism of Thomas' adaptation? -- and the whole violently breaking character gag got a little old, but it definitely held my attention and is part of a phenomenon I'm very interested in (the reception/appropriation ...more
Renato Corpaci
È la sceneggiatura teatrale che ha debuttato a Broadway nel 2010, opera del drammaturgo contemporaneo David Ives (Venere in Pelliccia, traduzione di Masolino d'Amico, BUR, 2013). Mette in scena l'incontro tra un'attrice e un regista e drammaturgo teatrale impegnato a rappresentare il proprio dramma tratto dal romanzo di Sacher-Masoch.

La trama è nota. In una notte buia e tempestosa, un uomo, un regista e autore, tra le file di una platea vuota e male illuminata, si lamenta al telefono sulla diffi
A young playwright, Thomas, has written an adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus in Fur by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (after whom the term "masochism" was coined); the novel is the story of an obsessive adulterous relationship between a man and the mistress to whom he becomes enslaved. At the end of a long day in which the actresses Thomas auditions fail to impress him, in walks Vanda, very late and seemingly clueless, but she convinces him to give her a chance. As they perform scenes from Thomas's ...more
Mark Johnson
This play is, above all, a gift to actors - a gift, and (which is to say the same thing) a challenge. The play consists of one extended scene which would last, I guess, about 90 minutes in the theater. A director, Thomas, is auditioning actresses for a leading role for a play he has written: an adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel 'Venus in Furs'. I should mention, as an aside, that, due to playwright David Ives' excellent and unobtrusive exposition, it is not necessary for one to hav ...more
Robert Matas
One of my favorite stories of all time is Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. However, there was always one major issue I had with the story; the ending. The original disappointed me because here I was, thinking I had finally found a decent work of literature where the female is dominant and the male is submissive, only to find... well... I think you get where I'm going. I was reluctant to watch Davis Ives' adaptation because I worried it would only reinforce the theme of the original; t ...more
Moira Russell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Appreciated the meta aspect (the play's about a playwright who's adapting Venus in Fur) and the nod towards S&M culture (the playright also has to clear up the common misconception that Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel was all leather and riding crops). Didn't blow my mind, but I thought it was clever, especially the idea of their acting roles mirroring the drama of in-scene vs. out-of-scene BDSM.
Sep 20, 2014 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan by: Read for Contemporary Drama class
Shelves: plays
After a long day of auditions for his new play, the discouraged playwright/director prepares to head home, just as a new actress arrives late and insists on auditioning. His play is based on Sacher-Masoch's novel, Venus in Fur. He thinks it's about love, the actress thinks it's about S&M. “But you know the problem here, Tommy? Any way you cut it, any way you play this, it’s degrading to women.” Her comments and feistiness create a balance with the play within the play, and the tension betwee ...more
It was all right. I agree with the assessment of many that story unfolds in rather predictable ways. And though the interplay of fiction and reality is a fascinating subject, and one that largely buoys this text, the predictability of the story and the character's arcs far outweighs, in my opinion, the lurid draw of the text or the larger discussion being had.
Julia Curtis
A fantastic play! Ives opens audiences and readers to a new type of play, where the characters analyze the play within the play, as well as the one that the read is holding. It's a fascinating story, presenting a writer with an "untrite" mind and a girl who just wants a part (ha.) The play will blow your mind, and you'll wonder what happens at the end. But in the best way possible.
Predictable but brilliant. What more is there to say? If it wasn't brilliant, we wouldn't have kept turning the pages now would we? All power was held by Vanda and I liked that. What actress wouldn't salivate over this book?
It was good but it's one of those plays that fly a bit above my head. That being said, I'd love to see it performed one day. With plays I sometimes need to someone's vision to give it a context.
Hail Aphrodite! This is a power play that makes winding, comedic, and often terrifying twists. It's a visceral, carnal delight that can, at times, be splendidly witty or sensually voyeuristic. It takes the status of females and elevates, promoting not just gender equality, but female domination. Told through the eyes of a struggling actress and a director/adaptor in the intimate (or, often times, intimidating) setting of an audition, this one, long, on-going scene is thrilling and critical, humo ...more
This was a strange play, in my opinion. In a way, I understood, but in a way, I didn't.
an absolutely amazing read. I need to see how this translates to stage immediately.
Aug 08, 2014 Anand added it
sounds like a tight play to watch! Not sure I'd like the original full-blown book.
Jonathas Soares
Just good, until it turns brilliant by reversing roles at the end. Recommended.
This would be a fun challenging play to perform in.
Alex Lewis
Saw this performed at ACT last night-- really great show!
i can't say enough how genius i think this little play is.
one of the most amazing plays about power
Tom Elliott
David Ives is clever as ever. This play is a titillating look at sexual power in the often charged world of auditions - especially men trying to cast a feminine ideal and can't find the anima they're looking for. I imagine it plays even better than it reads with the right actors.
Liz Bernardo
David Ives is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, contemporary playwright. I wasn't sure if he could write anything but short one acts, since that is all he's done before now. But Venus in Fur changed that. It is a beautiful work that makes so many great statements about theatre and the way we treat those we love and the power struggle within every relationship. In addition, it runs the gamut of emotions. Ives does a fantastic job with this script and I hope he writes another full-length wor ...more
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A contemporary American playwright whose plays often consist of one act and are generally comedies. They are notable for their verbal dexterity, theatrical invention, and quirky humor.

He earned his MFA in Playwriting from The Yale School of Drama. A Guggenheim Fellow in playwriting, David is probably best known for his evening of one-act comedies called "All In the Timing". The show won the Outer
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“Vanda (as Dunayev): I am a pagan. I am a Greek. I love the ancients not for their pediments or their poetry, but becausein their world Venus could love Paris one day and Anchises the next. Because they're not the moderns, who live in their mind, and because they're the opposite of Christians, who live on a cross. I don't live in my mind, or on a cross. I live on this divan. In this dress. In these stockings and these shoes. I want to live the way Helen and Aspasia lived, not the twisted women of today, who are never happy and never give happiness. Who won't admit that they want love without limit. Why should I forgo any possible pleasure, abstain from any sensual experience? I'm young, I'm rich, and I'm beautiful and I shall make the most of that. I shall deny myself nothing.

Thomas (as Kushemski): I certainly respect your devotion to principle.

Vanda (as Dunayev): I don't need your respect, excuse me. I'll take happiness. My happiness, not society's happiness. I will love a man who pleases me, and please a man who makes me happy--but only as long as he makes me happy, not a moment longer.”
“Vanda (as Dunayev): In our society, a woman's only power is through men. Her character is her lack of character. She's a blank, to be filled in my creatures who at heart despise her. I want to see what Woman will be when she ceases to be man's slave. When she has the same rights as he, when she's his equal in education and his partner in work. When she becomes herself. An individual.” 4 likes
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