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‘Venus in Fur,’ more stage comedies coming to Long Island

Tina Jones and Tristan Vaughan star in 'Venus

Tina Jones and Tristan Vaughan star in 'Venus in Fur' at Hampton Theatre Company. Credit: Andrew Botsford

Had enough of the winter doldrums? Comedy with a strong chance of giggles and guffaws is in the forecast this weekend as local theaters stage three romps timed to take the edge off cabin fever — for a few hours at least.

The trio of plays includes a rollicking backstage satire by Terrence McNally, a contemporary laughfest by “Sister Act” screenwriter Paul Rudnick, and a kinky dramedy playing off a classic casting couch situation. Let’s raise the curtain on where to see all three.

Venus in Fur

WHEN | WHERE Jan. 11-28, Hampton Theatre Company, Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Ave.

INFO $10-$30; hamptontheatre.org, 866-811-4111

Audiences on and Off-Broadway were tickled by David Ives’ two-character take on “Venus in Furs,” the risqué 1870 novella by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (he lent his name to masochism). Laughs are whipped up when Thomas, a married casting director, seeks “the perfect woman” to play the title fur-wearing dominatrix. He’s looking for “classic and elegant.” Instead, in walks scatterbrained Vanda, who at first seems unfit for the role. However, Thomas’ expectations are “blown away by this bold, brash wacky character,” said Terry Brennan, the theater company’s general manager. The play contains erotic, dramatic and lighthearted moments. At the end, Brennan said, “it’s up to the audience to guess who really won the battle.”

 

I Hate Hamlet

WHEN | WHERE Jan. 13-Feb. 3, Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson

INFO $28-$35; 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com

The ghost of John Barrymore walks again in this contemporary comedy. A television star arrives in New York City from Los Angeles to play the lead in the bard’s greatest tragedy at Manhattan’s Shakespeare in the Park. Barrymore, aka “The Great Profile” is summoned to the actor’s apartment through some (apocryphal) theater folklore concocted by playwright Rudnick and proceeds to advise his flesh-and-blood protégé on how to successfully transform himself into the great Dane. There’s wordplay and swordplay between the mismatched thespians and, as anyone who’s seen Rudnick’s precious work can attest to, plenty of big laughs. “It’s very funny, smart and witty and it’s a little outrageous,” said Jeffrey E. Sanzel, Theatre Three artistic director.

 

It’s Only a Play

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m., Jan. 13 and 27, 2 p.m., Jan. 14, 21 and 28, Star Playhouse, 74 Hauppauge Rd., Commack

INFO $25, $20 students and ages 60 and older; 631-462-9800, starplayhouse.com

McNally, who also wrote “The Ritz,” satirizes the theater in this comedy last seen on Broadway in 2015, with Nathan Lane heading an all-star cast. The laughs come at breakneck speed as actors dressed to the nines snipe at each other at an opening-night party. There’s also tension in the air as they wait for the reviews of a play inauspiciously titled “The Golden Egg.” Based on the author’s own experiences with various theater types, “It’s Only a Play” is crammed with adult language as well as inside theater jokes and topical references that have to be updated for every revival, said director Jim Redding. “It’s savagely witty, everybody is looking out for No. 1 and is self-possessed,” Redding said.

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