Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

In German the word ‘traum’ means dream. At a first glance, to English speaking audiences, the title of the show could mistaken as ‘Trauma-girl’. Performance artist Anne Welenc acknowledges this at the start of the performance and lets the audience know that our expectations of a show about sex work may be wrong.

Anne Welenc is ‘Kim’, a Polish/German sex worker and during Traumgirl she goes into her past to tell us how she got into the industry. We learn of her relationship with her parents, how she became a performance artist and then an escort in order to pay for her education in Switzerland. As she speaks she changes clothes and uses a small video camera to film herself. The images are projected to the back of the stage. The female body is one of the main themes of the show. Seeing Kim’s body projected and enlarged on the screen completely emphasises this theme and here we also witness her relationship to the work that she does. It is an intimate and personal insight for the audience.

At either side of the stage notices have been posted on the walls. On each is a phone number and a Twitter handle. Throughout Traumgirl the audience can send a message to Kim and she will read out the question. This form of interactivity initially seems inviting. It asks the audience to participate in an anonymous fashion which is in keeping with the secretive themes of the show. However, when the performer does read out the texts this breaks up the narrative and feels a bit out of place. The storytelling element of Traumgirl is very strong and Anne has the ability to hold the attention of the audience without interacting with us in this manner. Traumgirl concludes in a touching and powerful manner that gives the impression that the show is a form of catharsis for the performer which makes the audience endear to her even more.

Traumgirl is a companion piece to another performance at the Edinburgh Fringe called Traumboy (a masculine take on sex work). Both performances are at Summerhall at the same time, on alternating dates. Traumgirl is a subversive take on sex work and hopefully Traumboy will be just as engaging.