© 2018 Quad Cities CVB
1601 River Drive, Suite 110
Moline, Illinois 61265
For its first full-length production of 2018, Davenport's QC Theatre Workshop will treat audiences to a dark comedy of desire, gamesmanship, and shifting power dynamics in the area debut of the Tony Award-winning Venus in Fur. Running March 9 through 25, this 2010 Broadway hit was described by Backstage magazine as “an intermissionless thrill ride,” and is being brought to life by two of the area's finest stage performers who also happen to be husband and wife.
Venus in Fur will be presented at the QC Theatre Workshop (1730 Wilkes Avenue, Davenport, IA) March 9 through 25, with Friday and Saturday performances at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday performances at 3 p.m. Doors open a half hour before each performance, and the play's adult language and situations make it appropriate for mature audiences only.
Written by Tony nominee David Ives, Venus in Fur opens on writer/director Thomas Novachek as he attempts to cast his stage adaptation of an 1870 German novel that helped coin the term “masochism.” Frustrated by a lack of options for his female lead, Thomas is on the verge of giving up when actress Vanda Jordan bursts into the room – brash, vulgar, and seemingly all wrong for the part. But Vanda convinces Thomas to let her audition, and as lightning flashes and thunder crashes, she shows astounding insight into the play and her character that seem nearly impossible to believe.
What results in Ives' 100-minute one-act is a hilarious, thrilling, unnerving game of cat-and-mouse that the New York Times called “a seriously smart and very funny stage seminar on the destabilizing nature of sexual desire,” and that Time Out New York lauded as “deliciously twisty and witty fun.”
Directing Venus in Fur is longtime Workshop participant Mike Schulz, who previously helmed The Big Meal and Last Call for the venue, and appeared on-stage in such presentations as Peter & the Starcatcher, Buried Child, and Bat Boy: The Musical.
And portraying this two-character play's Thomas and Vanda are Workshop veterans and newly married performers Thomas Alan Taylor and Jessica Taylor (née Denney), who most recently acted together in the theatre's sell-out production of the world premiere Broken, and also co-starred in A Green River, Private Eyes, and boom!
Thomas' other Workshop credits include The Pillowman, A Steady Rain, and the venue's 2012 debut RED, while Jessica has enjoyed roles in Peter & the Starcatcher, Inheritors, and Tribes, and both are currently relishing their latest acting opportunities for the theatre.
“Vanda is one of the strongest female roles I've had the honor to explore,” says Jessica. “This story explores the power dynamic of men and women today and in 1870, and the play very intelligently shows the contradictory roles a woman is often expected to fulfill. It's truly like a dance – a tango where, at any moment, one character or the other will take the lead.”
For his part, Thomas says, “Venus and Fur's initial appeal to me was its tightly woven, relentless plot structure that exists entirely within the relationship of Vanda and Thomas. It rises and never drops until the lights go out at the end – and even then, it may continue to rise in the imaginings of the audience.”
Both Venus in Fur stars admit to also loving the chance to work with one another on-stage again – even when doing so comes with unique and specific challenges.
“This is the first show we've done as an official married couple,” Jessica says, “and while we have incredible trust in each other, we can also be very nitpicky because of our comfort together. Sometimes we'll get into 20-minute discussions about why a single word should be delivered one way or another! But even though we have two completely different acting styles and ways of preparing, we always find our groove together during the rehearsal process.”
“Doing Venus in Fur with Jess has been full of ecstasy and exasperation,” adds Thomas. “She knocks me off my feet with her bold creativity and intelligent choices, and yet she infuriates me – in the best way – by challenging me to be better, smarter, and more present. She's a full satisfaction.”
Venus in Fur will be presented under the QC Theatre Workshop's “Pay What It's Worth” pricing policy in which guests see the play first and then pay afterward, allowing viewers to determine what the experience was worth to them personally. This innovative strategy was designed to create a wholly accessible theatrical experience for patrons regardless of financial means, and the policy's great success has allowed it to continue for Venus in Fur.
For reservations and more information on Venus in Fur, please call (563)823-8893 or e-mail QCTheatreWorkshop@gmail.com, and visit QCTheatreWorkshop.org and Facebook.com/QCTheatreWorkshop.
Venus in Fur performance schedule
Friday, March 9, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 10, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 11, 3 p.m.
Friday, March 16, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 17, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 18, 3 p.m.
Friday, March 23, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 24, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 25, 3 p.m.