Two characters find intense interaction in 'Virus Attacks Heart'
By By Gwendolyn Glenn
Nov 12, 2014 at 6:00 AM
Painful, exhausting raw emotions take center stage as two lost, injured souls try to find solace in each other's arms in "Virus Attacks Heart," Venus Theatre's newest production. The play, which runs through Nov. 30, takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster as the two main characters struggle to keep their sanity and find a bit of happiness along the way.
Written by Australian native Shannon Murdoch, winner of the 2011 Yale Drama Series Award, the play has a few laughs here and there, but it revolves around two volatile characters, who hook up, supposedly for a one-night stand, after meeting in a nightclub.
"What was supposed to be a one-night stand goes into forever," said Joe Feldman, a Studio Theatre Conservatory graduate who plays the role of the young male character, Jamie.
In the play, Jamie is new to town and has a recent, personal hurt that he tries to mask and get over by partying at a local nightclub. Feldman has good stage presence and plays Jamie as a vulnerable and likable character. He also has great moves, including showing off a few break dancing antics as he dances solo in the club scenes.
German native Karin Rosnizeck makes her debut at Venus as Beatrice, a 43-year-old woman who's had a hard life, filled with regrets. As Jamie's hook up, the tall, thin blond alternates from wearing a short dress and boots to a lacy red teddy. Rosnizeck plays Beatrice as someone with a hard, tough exterior, but she also allows the audience to see Beatrice's fears and pains that lurk just below the surface, which she deals with by drinking, a lot.
Beatrice feels as if her life has gone by quickly and now that she's 43, she has nothing to show for it or to call her own, so she parties to forget her troubles and looks for a bit of happiness in the club to feel normal.
The play's action takes place on three round white, speckled platforms, that at times look like a modern nightclub's dance floor, as loud music throbs and colored lights flash, and then takes on the look of a bedroom, as the main characters talk, argue, cry and have sex under a white blanket.
"The play goes through a lot of ranges of life in one night. It's like a tour de force in one night," Rosnizeck said after the show.
Both actors expertly exude the pain and anger their characters harbor, and they have good chemistry as they go from laughing and making out to heated discussions and arguments. They cling to each other in an unhealthy way, with Jamie sometimes thinking the family secret he's learned has rendered him weak and useless. Beatrice's only advice is to tell him that he won't break, but he'll come close.
The audience feels the pain and struggles of the two characters and the obvious exhausting toll it has taken on their lives. Feldman said playing the role takes a lot out of him each night as well, and admitted to being tired at the end of the 90-minute show.
"This was the big crescendo that went to dark places in a beautiful way," Randall said. "Beatrice has an unapologetic female sexuality and she is almost dangerous. She has needs and gets them fulfilled."
The production's storyline plays out in a nonlinear order, which gives the audience a few breaks from the tension and strife of the characters, especially at the end, which is a little drawn out. And like a Seinfeld episode where the show starts at the hilarious ending at a wedding and begins with a main character getting a wedding invitation in the mail, "Virus Attacks Heart" ends where it began — the meeting of two people, searching for a way out of their pain.
The play is intense, and well acted and directed, but because of the sexual scenes, it's recommended for mature audiences. Shows continue through November. For tickets, go to web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/243.