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Voyeurs de Venus



Somewhere in Lydia R. Diamond's overlong, overwritten theatrical exercise is a powerful play. She interweaves the stories of Saartjie Baartman, the 19th-century "Hottentot" displayed like a circus animal for five years to European "polite" society, and Sara Washington, a present-day feminist academic offered a lucrative book deal to write Baartman's biography. But in our era of revisionist history, the play's animating crisis--Washington can't imagine telling the story without becoming as exploitative as Baartman's colonialist captors--makes no sense. Extended dance sequences and extraneous subplots further dilute the work. Given the provocative material, however, and Diamond's knack for revealing character through deftly pointed dialogue, she may find her play in a rewrite or two. Through 4/15: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago, 312-633-0630, $10-$25.

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