Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for February 2010
BY Brandon Voss
February 23 2010 5:00 PM ET
Douglas Carter Beane, the man behind Broadway’s Xanadu, is having another gay year. Give It Up! — which he penned with life partner Lewis Flinn — is making its world premiere in Dallas, and his hit play The Little Dog Laughed just opened in London. Breathlessly directed by Scott Ellis, his latest satire, Mr. & Mrs. Fitch, which runs through April 4 at NYC’s Second Stage, stars John Lithgow and Jennifer Ehle as married gossip columnists — a pretentious Noël Coward couple stuck in the Twitter era — who invent an intriguing socialite of indeterminate sexual orientation when a night out fails to provide them with fodder. Mr. Fitch is bisexual at best — his editor calls him a “faggot” and his wife a “fag hag” — but “it’s clear they’ve learned to love each other,” she explains. And though Beane’s smarty-pants script tries too hard, you’ll learn to love them too.
Remember Wes Bentley, the plastic bag-filming Ricky in American Beauty? He’s back with his piercing blue eyes in Venus in Fur, David Ives’s exhilarating two-hander, directed with gusto by gay legend Walter Bobbie at Classic Stage Company though March 28. Bentley stars as a playwright auditioning actresses for his adaptation of Austrian author Sacher-Masoch’s erotic S/M novel of the same name, and Nina Arianda makes an auspicious off-Broadway debut as Vanda, a hot mess with skills who shows up late to read for the dominatrix that shares her name. While they indulge in improv, the lines between fantasy and reality blur as sexual tension rises, and Bentley even briefly channels a submissive female when they switch roles. The play’s slight bloat could use a corset, but skipping this one is punishable by spanking.