Hot damn; I still love Nina Arianda's performance as much as when I first encountered Venus in Fur two years ago at CSC, but unfortunately, I've yet to see anyone who could match up to her -- even as a submissive! At the performance I caught, Arianda's Vanda was up against Hugh Dancy's understudy, Mark Alhadeff, who can't handle a live wire like Arianda. While her wattage fluctuates throughout the night, his remains static; only occasionally is there enough friction to actually spark some tension between the two. When he says that "There can be nothing more sensuous than pain, nothing more pleasurable than degradation," they're just words, but when she quips that "You don't have to tell me about sadomasochism, I'm in the theater," every word lands a punch. And while it's true that she's meant to be the more extroverted, energetic of the two, from the moment she runs into the theater with an umbrella, squealing her apologies and stripping to her lingerie, Alhadeff must do more than play a lethargic opposite; at some point, mustn't he feel the thrill that the audience receives from Arianda's deft command? As she often instructs, he must be appear ambiguous, not ambivalent.