The Vagina Monologues was not your normal, average Drama Barn show. It was therefore both an easy and hard task reviewing this performance: hard because it is difficult to say a bad thing about a show so intent on promoting and encouraging female equality and empowerment. Easy, well, because I don’t have to.
“I bet you’re worried” were the first words spoken on stage, and somehow seemed to perfectly sum up the feelings of the audience. There was undoubtedly a united feeling of ‘what have we gotten ourselves into’ between myself and what seemed like the hundred other people squashed into the Barn. However, any worry, doubt, confusion or anticipation was quickly wiped from my mind. I was laughing about vaginas. Laughing about vaginas in ways which I’d never found funny before. That was, ultimately what made the show such an interesting and powerful experience: the subjects talked about, laughed about and cried about on stage were not necessarily easy to listen to, or easy to say, but they needed to be said- and the cast did a truly beautiful job of doing that.
Reviewing difficulty number one: to review a show which although is a performance, somehow doesn’t feel like a performance. The Vagina Monologues is essentially a collection of monologues centred around vaginas, ranging from every experience you could imagine. There were moments of hilarity, a seventy year old woman describing the moment she had an orgasm for the very first time, a rant about how a woman’s vagina was “angry” at society’s quest to make her feel as uncomfortable as possible. There were moments of cut-throat, exploding and overwhelming severity, accounts of Bosnian women being raped during the Yugoslavian war, facts such as how one third of women around the world will be beaten or raped at some point during their lifetime. In the performance’s most truthful and honest moments, which were also the most poignant and powerful, the audience forgot that we were watching or observing something on a stage- we felt something just a tiny bit bigger than ourselves.
Reviewing difficulty number two: to review the acting ability of a cast who’s task was to take truthful accounts by women and make them as honest and ‘non-actery’ as possible. To fault this performance would simply be to say that sometimes this was not achieved, and there were moments where I, as an audience member, felt as though it was slipping into quite overdramatic or exaggerated tendencies. However, the cast of twenty girls were able to have the audience on a string, drawn in with them constantly, completely immersed in what was being said. And it was not a cast in the usual sense: girls in the cast had not acted before, had not performed before. Ultimately the cast knew, and by the end the audience did too, that this was not a production which, when over, finished entirely. This was a production within a campaign which was very much alive and feeding of the audience and cast’s willingness to keep the movement going. To act, and to rise.
Reviewing difficulty number three: summing this performance up. Although, undoubtedly, this play was about vaginas, it was somehow simultaneously about a whole lot more. It was about women, and men. About relationships and disappointments, about generally feeling like you don’t fit in with the world. It was about children, about regrets, about making mistakes. It’s a hard job to summarise this play, but I think that is the point. It made me think. About my vagina, but also about a lot of things I have never really taken the time to understand before. I would highly recommend you buy tickets for the remaining performances, but then to my knowledge (spare a few tickets on the door), the rest seem to be sold out!
All I can do now then is to urge you, man or woman, to get behind this amazing cause. To start thinking about the ugly stuff, and the funny stuff… To keep supporting V Day 2013 and Act. Rise York. I did not expect to be this emotional: I had hoped that this review would be a harsh and objective critique on feminism and political theatre. It’s clear to see this did not happen. It was, simply put: a poignant, evoking and classy theatrical experience. About vaginas.