Review: The Vagina Monologues
Most likely, you have already heard of the Vagina Monologues, a worldwide phenomenon, and performed here in St Andrews every year. So if you have yet to see it for […]
Most likely, you have already heard of the Vagina Monologues, a worldwide phenomenon, and performed here in St Andrews every year. So if you have yet to see it for yourself, the question is, what exactly is it that you’ve heard?
That it’s an hour of feminists raging about the superiority of their vaginas?
I have heard variations of this statement many times before, but we will henceforth move past such notions, St Andrews, for that is far from what the Vagina Monologues actually are, or stand for. Although the monologues are rooted in admiration for vaginas, the majority of the stories depict a woman’s lengthy journey in accepting her vagina despite negative past experiences, and ultimately finding female empowerment thorough this embracement.
That the show is aimed towards women, so as a man you wouldn’t be able to understand or relate to it?
I will admit that there were noticeably less men in the audience when I saw it Thursday night, but that is a shame, perhaps due to a misunderstanding of what the monologues are about. Less important are the details of the female anatomy, and more important are the experiences of the exceptional women depicted in the monologues. I was seated next to a guy, and I can assure you that he laughed throughout the performance, just as much and in unison with the women in the audience. Furthermore, Teddy Woodhouse is the production’s co-director! So men, please note that lacking a vagina will not detract from your enjoyment of this production.
That it’s an intimate discussion about vaginas, which you would find uncomfortable?
The monologues are smart. At the beginning of the show they even acknowledge what an off-putting word “vagina” really is, they then proceed to list dozens of its alternative names. Apart from a few rare moments I, for the most part, did not find the monologues uncomfortable. The various stories can range from hilarity (like Hannah Lafferty’s spot-on performance of “Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” where she kept the entire audience roaring while she rather skilfully demonstrated various kinds of moans) to despondency (such as Ali West’s monologue, “My Vagina was My Village,” inspired by the stories of Bosnian women brutally raped and mutilated by soldiers.) And yet they were all consistently natural in feel, a testament not only to the writer Eve Ensler, but to this production’s actors and directors as well. So if you are at any point a bit uncomfortable, then good, those are the moments that you should cherish most. No part of this show is absurd or obscene, but it intends to break the taboos and social constructs surrounding vaginas. So if you are uncomfortable, then you are simply being confronted with something you are less familiar with, which means you are gaining awareness and the Vagina Monologues have therefore been successful, as well as entertaining!
A notable component of the Vagina Monologues is that all proceeds from the production are going to Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre, to further support women who have been subject to sexual violence, and who are still working to reclaim their vaginas and themselves. Also, as this was a production put on by St Andrews’ feminist society, not everyone involved was an actor. Those who performed the main monologues all delivered powerful performances, but in between these, other women recited facts or had smaller speeches. I honestly thought this only added to the experience, for the Vagina Monologues are not purely fictional stories, they are based on real women, and painfully real experiences that women are subject to around the world.
The Vagina Monologues depict women’s positive and negative experiences with their vaginas, with topics including masturbation, rape, and of course, pubic hair. Within the hour I laughed, I wanted to cry, and I reclaimed cunt! It caused me to think not only about my own vagina (much thanks to Rebecca D’Souza’s rendition of “My Angry Vagina”), but also about women around the world. Tonight is the last performance, and I strongly encourage anyone who has ever owned or known a vagina to finally see these monologues for themselves!
The Vagina Monologues continue tonight at the Buchanan at 7pm for £5.