Philip Browning, Copy Director gives his review on Casa Valentina, currently showing at the Southwark Playhouse.
50 years from now, when homosexuals are still scuttling about in the back-alley, cross-dressing will be as everyday as cigarette smoking”. So says Charlotte (not his real name), the leader of a ‘sorority’ of transvestites who gather at the weekends in Casa Valentina, a remote Catskill resort, where they can cast off their business suits and slip into taffeta and silk. Set in 1962, this prediction of what 2015 will be like for (very definitely heterosexual) men who wear dresses (as well as smokers!) couldn’t have been more off beam.
Harvey Fierstein’s play is not a drag show. It tackles the psychology of cross-dressing, the luxury of dual personalities, and the need for compassion. Its cracked logic and poetry make sure that while you’re being entertained by the blistering dialogue, you’re also provoked to think. It’s funny, heart-breaking and wonderfully acted.