Now playing at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway.
I have always suspected that for some star-making roles, the magic is all in the part itself and any competent actor lucky enough to land the role could ride it to acclaim. But if that's true in some cases, it absolutely isn't true of Venus in Fur. Nina Arianda is unforgettable as Vanda, the dominant presence in the play (in every sense), but that's in large part because it's such a high-wire role. It's all too easy to imagine how unconvincing the character could be in other hands. Capturing Vanda's subtle wit and quicksilver tonal shifts cannot possibly be easy, and few actresses have the burning charisma and imposing physicality required to convey the woman's utter mastery of the action on stage. Playwright David Ives needed nothing short of a goddess to make Venus in Fur work; it is to everyone's good fortune that the play's producers landed upon Arianda.