Until 29 April
It’s safe to say that The Vagina Monologues is not a play that everyone wants to see. A combination of observations, monologues inspired by interviews about women’s relationships and experiences with their vaginas, and facts about genitalia, the play remains legendary in feminist culture, but is often prefaced by “could you imagine watching…” by others. From the beginning of the play, the point was made clear: ’think about your vagina. Do you like it?’
The three actresses, Maureen Carr, Joyce Falconer and Laura Lovemore, portrayed a host of women’s experiences. These ranged from stories of nightmares of gushes from between legs flooding entire restaurants after a disastrous first kiss; female genital mutilation and the feelings of hatred and shame that stem from it; how child abuse stain a person’s perception of themselves and their sexuality, as well as the heart-warming self-acceptance and self-love that could follow. Each individual journey of each character—their feelings, their reflections— was portrayed beautifully. No aspect was lost, no story was more important than another. The range of emotions, steered excellently by each cast member, took the audience on a rollercoaster ; One minute we would be howling with laughter, sombrely reflecting the next, then shouting “CUNT” in the much-appreciated audience participation section of the show. Director Irene Macdougall selected monologues from V’s (formerly Eve Ensler) work that kept everyone on the edge of their seats and thoroughly entertained.
The set design was simple. Three chairs, two side tables with glasses of water. It felt almost as though we were about to engage in a conversation with the actors rather than watch a performance, and, for such a taboo subject, that is exactly what we wanted it to feel like. The only thing that separated it from a chit-chat with the girls was the play’s title projected at the back of the stage before the play began. The casual set design was only complimented by the costume choices, simple dresses and relaxed cargo trousers that looked like the most comfortable choice for each of the women; they looked like people you would give a smile and a nod to on the street rather than performers on a stage. The effortless shifts from conversation between the actresses to monologues was achieved with the lighting design, drawing our attention to what was about to take place, and this worked well with the set- each character was given her own space to tell her tale.
Carr, Falconer and Lovemore’s chemistry on stage paired wonderfully with the set and costume design. It seemed as though they were just having a normal discussion, involving us and breaking the fourth wall with plenty of eye contact. Along with the text that they were working with, the trio’s reactions to each other’s words made for natural comedy as they bounced off one another as women having a conversation in between each of the monologues.
In the real world, you can’t avoid the sexual violence and harassment that women face— plastered in the news, crude jokes, warning posters on the backs of bathroom stall doors. The Vagina Monologues represents a movement through the raw, engaging telling of stories that many of us can relate to. These subjects are usually talked about in hushed tones, and to see them take the spotlight felt freeing. Vaginas have been put on the backburner, subjected to ridicule, violence, unnecessarily cold instruments for smear tests, and this piece was truly a celebration of such a wonderful piece of anatomy. Although The Vagina Monologues has been around for decades, it is as relevant now as it ever was. After attending, I can say that, whilst this is not a show that some would initially want to see, it is a show that everyone should see.