Review: Traumgirl

Anne Welenc's one woman show about the life of a brothel worker in Switzerland is by turns funny and intimate

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 10 Aug 2019
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Traumboy & Traumgirl

Traumgirl begins with a naked woman splayed over a bubble machine, projecting a live close-up video of her vulva on a three metre-high screen that takes up half the stage. Don’t worry, it gets more intimate.

A response to Daniel Hellmann’s Traumboy, Anne Welenc’s solo show explores sex work as performance art from a female perspective. It’s the stronger of the two, more tightly focussed on a single strand: how Kim, a German-Polish actress decided to start working in a brothel in Switzerland.

The opening few minutes feel weaker than the rest; Welenc fluffs her story a few times, and a description of how Kim’s father comes to change his mind on her first career choice lacks any sense of his reasoning. 

Welenc hits her stride in the second half, however, particularly in a long section about the minute-to-minute experience of a shift at a brothel. Here she’s funny and gripping as she lists all the potential kinks and extras she can charge for: "licking, fingering, English education". Then she moves into the audience, and the mood is deeply intimate as she holds each person’s gaze just long enough for a smile.

Not everything works so well. It takes a long time for Welenc to build her rapport with the audience, and some of the deliberate strangeness doesn’t feel earned. The bubble machine, for example, is really there for a single joke that isn’t perfectly timed. But despite that, Welenc creates strong images—a red latex suit padded out of all proportion, a half naked woman wreathed in smoke—that are likely to linger.