A quick note on blurbing—which is what theaters do by lifting flattering text from reviews and putting it in print ads, and also what I'm basically doing here. (Calling these "three-word reviews" is a bit silly because they're quick summaries, not critical engagements, but whatever.) For its Venus in Fur print ads, the Rep lifted the phrase "draped in sadomasochism and sexuality" from The Stranger's review. This is the full paragraph, which is about the play's basic banality, not the electrifying sexuality that the blurb hints at:
For a play draped in sadomasochism and sexuality, Venus in Fur is surprisingly wholesome. Ives may have written the most family-friendly adaptation of Sacher-Masoch in history—a few small changes and it would be ready for any high-school auditorium—and he's definitely written a crowd-pleaser. Last week on Twitter, director Tlaloc Rivas announced that after surveying 150 regional and off-Broadway theaters this season, he found more productions of Venus in Fur (14) than works by August Wilson and Lynn Nottage combined (9). Which isn't an indictment. Venus in Fur does what it does well—it just doesn't do all that much.
And this note isn't an indictment either. Blurbing is age-old and totally fair game. (They buy the space, they can do what they like.) It's just another reminder that blurbs—even the ones I'm writing in this post—are not to be trusted.
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