Venus is playing at the Signature Theatre located at 480 West 42nd Street. It runs two hours fifteen minutes with one intermission. The play closes on June 4, 2017.
Suzan-Lori Parks is the playwright. Her 2001 play Topdog/Underdog won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. She won a Tony Award in 2002 for Topdog/Underdog. Suzan-Lori was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2015 for Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2, & 3 and in 2000 for The Blood.
Kevin Mambo is known for his role in the CBS Daytime soap Guiding. He won two Daytime Emmys for this role.
The setting is Southern Africa, England and France; 1810s.
Miss Saartjie a.k.a The Girl (Zairab Jan) is approached in her home town by The Man (Randy Danson). He tells her the streets are pave in gold in England. If she comes with him he’ll set her up to be a dancer and share the profits with her. All he wants is to make her his sex slave.
The Mother (Julian Rozzell) buys her. She becomes part of a freak show. Her outstanding feature is her rear end. She dances in the nude, shocking for that time period. The girl is touched by the patrons and Mother is not nice to her.
The Negro Resurrectionist (Kevin Mambo) is counting down the scenes. He also sings with a guitar.
Baron Docteur (John Ellis Conlee) buys her from Mother. They go to Paris where she learns French. She falls in love with him and become pregnant twice. He is married. Being with her is hurting his career and there is a big scandal. Doctuer uses her to compare her anatomy, as if being black makes her different. He finds out she isn’t. His colleagues are waiting for her to die, so they can pull her flesh away to make other comparisons.
There are other characters involved in the story. They have weird clothe and strange colored hair.
They mention a law passed about slavery. I came away thinking is Suzan-Lori Parks trying to say people justified slavery by thinking Africans are not like us so it is ok? Or big butts are back in style????
The second act was the strongest. When Zain first came out she put on a body suit with nice firm breast and one large rear end.
All I can say is this is one weird show. I was disappointed with the show. I have seen other Suzan-Lori Parks plays which I have liked; this is not one of them. Another thing that annoyed me was I’ not sure how Girl died, there were to versions presented.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.