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Culture Wars

Review: Maria de Buenos Aires, Zoo Southside

Within seconds, a shrouded woman has removed a slab of sirloin from her underwear and plonked it, crackling and sizzling, into a frying pan. Blood siphons from another’s sleeves and is downed with gusto by two moustachioed pierrots. Handfuls of dust fly through the air. Knives scrape and pierce the wooden stage. Come the end, the same woman – the lady of the steak – is encased in a giant bubble, singing in an empty snowdome.

Needless to say, Teatro Di Capua’s realisation of Astor Piazzolla’s tango-opera is a visceral, macabre experience. En route, we’re also privy to handfuls of dust, mangles of pasta and molehills of sugar. At one point, the air grows thick with ground coffee, which is scattered by an enormous ventilation shaft, clogging and rasping at the back of your throat

The whole thing teems with animal passions. Sex and death hover over it like flies on dung. Yet, given that its sung in Spanish, the plot is almost indiscernible beyond a vague cocktail of violence and eroticism. A young, handsome couple tangos, quite entrancingly, at the front of the stage. A singer warbles, quite beautifully, in a selection of evening gowns. A goblin-esque hombre – part-clown, part-narrator, part-minstrel, part-demon – oversees proceedings, entering on stilts at one point dressed only in a sparse tangle of fairy lights. The abstraction prevents connection. More help is needed. (I’d recommend either a synopsis or a carefree attitude of acceptance.)

Written for Culture Wars