The Empty Chalices: The Sensuous Poetic World of Delmira Agustini | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Empty Chalices: The Sensuous Poetic World of Delmira Agustini

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It was an odd choice to open Judy Veramendi's play about turn-of-the-century Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini on Valentine's Day: it condemns the illusions of romantic love and the snares of sexual passion. Agustini's writing about sex shocked the public, and her determination to continue writing after she was married made her personal life a battle. Acclaimed at 21, she was dead at 27 by her husband's hand. Veramendi fills her protofeminist story with anachronisms, referring to a character's psychological troubles as "depression" (then called neurasthenia) and to societal constraints in terms common to second-wave feminism. Nor will the piece win any converts to Agustini's verse: however thrilling it might be in Spanish, in translation it sounds like a pale imitation of her hero Baudelaire. Watching this show is like receiving Les fleurs du mal when you were hoping for long-stemmed roses. Through 2/21: Sat 2 PM, Mon 8 PM. Then 3/1-3/7: Tue-Wed 8 PM, Sat 2 PM, Mon 8 PM. Next Theatre Company, Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes, Evanston, 847-475-1875, ext. 2. $12-$15.

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