Review: The Vagina Monologues
LOTTIE UNWIN challenges all men and encourages all women to go and see this show.
Wednesday 11th – Saturday 13th, 11.00, Fitzpatrick Hall, Queens. £5-8.
Directed by Helen Parker.
The fact that sex and genitals sell is old news. But, the size of the first night audience and initial sniggers at the mention of ‘vagina’ prove it is still true. Rapidly the show shattered every single reason for those giggles, addressing the subject of vaginas so confrontationally that women could no longer laugh to hide embarrassment, men their terror and all of us our awkward response to the taboo subject.
The Vagina Monologues are, in places, hilarious and not because of the sex jokes but because every observation hits the spot. Yes, it’s agonisingly embarrassing to have your vagina looked at, yes, hair is an issue, and yes, yes, yes I am not really sure what to call mine.
While I love the concept of collected accounts from a range of women and the breadth of content – from sex, to rape, to childbirth – it is the stupendous talent of everyone involved that makes the show that special. At no point in any of the monologues did the perfectly cast actresses fail to completely convince me of their roles. Emily Taylor Hunt is ready for Broadway with her stomping and defiant ‘My Angry Vagina’ and Ella Writer’s transformation from innocent child to sexually awakened woman in ‘The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could’ was faultless.
The bravery with which the actresses embrace the content, alone in the centre of a huge stage, was awesome. Guila Galastro’s ‘Reclaiming Cunt’, spelling out the four letters with orgasmic climax was spectacular and I was with her every sensual syllable of the way. Alice Martin put the stories of Newnham Nookie to shame with her wonderful, daring and a little frightening account of ‘The Women Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy’ demonstrating moan after moan as she writhed, gyrated and trembled on stage. Here the only fault was mine as I wriggled, uncomfortably watching a woman relish three orgasms and I am ashamed of my response. That pride, acceptance and enthusiasm for women’s sexuality is repressed in our society and I was left passionate that it shouldn’t be. And, still smiling at the impression of a ‘student moan’, crying ‘I should be working’ as she comes.
In The Vagina Monologues’ exploration of what the vagina means to society no stone is left unturned. Eleanor Penfold’s ‘My Vagina Was my Village’, a tale of a Bosnian rape victim, brought tears to my eyes as the light dimmed and she reached her heart-wrenching conclusion. I squeezed my legs together tightly, completely convinced by her pain.
One of the presenters did fudge her lines and the lighting went wrong but the production showed that theatre is actually about who is on stage and what they are saying, and actually nothing more.
I tried to take a male friend but he ran a mile, eventually confessing “I just really don’t want to see it” and I do understand that for men it is uncomfortable territory. But, I challenge all men to see the show and conquer this underworld in order to understand women, certainly as lovers, but as The Vagina Monologues demonstrate also as friends, mothers and daughters. For women the show is life affirming. I left yesterday being able to say ‘I love my vagina’ and while now I wince even writing it, last night’s show taught me I should be entitled to say it, be able to say it and want to say it. That’s a big step for a girl who squirms talking about sex to make in an hour.
All the proceeds from the show go to V Day and Cambridge Rape Crisis.
Have your own Vagina Monologue to share? Send your story, thoughts, desires or fears to [email protected] to contribute entirely anonymously to an up-coming feature.