To pay for a trip to Venice, they would have to "screw half of South America", reckons one of the whores in the remote Argentinian brothel that forms the setting in Venecia. It's a short piece but, with droll calculation, it seems to take all the time in the world to build to its eventual haunting, poetic climax. The sultry patio of a whorehouse in the middle of the outback is in no danger of being mistaken for a high-powered intellectual salon and the play, appealingly translated by the director and Alison Gordon, manages to make affectionate fun of the unhurried pace of mental activity in this cut-off world, while also gently highlighting the economic destitution. A very funny study in misplaced macho conceit, Vincenzo Nicoli's paunchy, moustachioed Chato swaggers in with a little borrowed electric organ as though this humble gadget was up there with a Cadillac in the penis-enhancement stakes. The whores - whose mix of rivalry and exasperated fondness is expertly conveyed by the actresses Renee Weldon as the sulkily sexy newcomer; Jane Lowe and Bernice Steger as her leathery older colleagues - don't even know where Venice is and they would have jointly pleasured Chato in order to find out, if he hadn't been so thick as to tell them just as they were starting. The travel project is prompted by the brothel's ancient madam, La Gringa Helen Ryan who wishes to redeem her youth by going to Venice and re-embracing the one true love of her life: Don Giacomo, an Italian whom she courted in Buenos Aires and from whom she stole the money to set up the whorehouse.

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Venecia / Jorge Accame ; English version by Rebecca Gatward and Alison Gordon.




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