The 40th season of the Unicorn Theatre began Saturday night on the Jerome Stage, with Venus in Fur an extremely funny and sexy play by David Ives. Directed by Cynthia Levin the show is about a playwright and first-time director who is looking for the perfect actress to play Vanda in his adaption of the erotic novel, Venus in Fur.
Thomas, played by Rusty Sneary, is disappointed at the quality of actresses who have auditioned for the part. Tired and disappointed he prepares to go home when Vanda, played by Vanessa Severo, bursts through the door and convinces him to let her read for the part.
Severo takes her character from the bubbly, energetic actress, who spends a large portion of time wandering around the stage in provocative lingerie, to reading for the part of Vanda with great ease and determination. It is hilarious to watch as she moves from character to character at the drop of a hat, or in this case the drop of a leather skirt. One moment she is reading the lines of a sultry diva and at the blink of the eye she is back to being the loud and sometimes obnoxious actress vying for the part. Her comedic timing is impeccable and breaks the sensual tension that is building between the two characters.
Severo has performed in several venues in the Kansas City area. Her last production at the Unicorn Theatre was in Motherf**ker With The Hat. She has also performed with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the Coterie, the now defunct American Heartland Theatre and the New Theatre Restaurant. She has won the ‘Best Actress’ of New York MITF award and has three time been named ‘Best Actress’ by the Kansas City Pitch.
Sneary does a great job as Thomas, who is convinced by Vanda to read the part with her for the audition. Thomas tells Vanda that he is not the person that she should read with and he is not an actor. Sneary does a magnificent job of making the audience believe he is just reading the part with Vanda. As the play continues his character gets more and more into the script, until it is hard to tell if he is reading from the script or living the part.
Sneary has been seen in several Unicorn productions; The Pillowman, Frozen, The Exonerated and Distracted just to mention a few. He has performed with The Coterie Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre and is co-owner and serves as Artistic Director of The Living Room.
Venus in Fur continues at the Unicorn Theatre at 3828 Main through September 29.