Photo: Milli Bee
UEA’s very own drama studio played host to the infamous feminist play, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on Monday 4 February. The play’s reputation, and misconceptions surrounding it, precedes it; many theatre-goers anxiously expect an overtly militant piece, anti-man and pro-bush (not George Bush). UEA’s piece, performed in honour of the upcoming V Day and in memory of the victim of the recent Delhi gang rape, triumphantly smashes all negative preconceptions.
The piece is composed of a series of fictitious monologues inspired by the hundreds of interviews Ensler carried out with women from every conceivable background. Accordingly, the performance is as diverse as the women who inspired it; The Vagina Monologues succeeds in making audiences weep with both hilarity and sadness.
The piece leaves no vagina-related stone unturned; covering sexuality, abuse, menstruation and childbirth, the taste, smell, feeling and names we give our vaginas, The Vagina Monologues is an exploration and celebration of all aspects of womanhood.
The all-female cast do an amazing job at bringing these stories to life. Taking it in turns to step up to the spot-lit microphone in the centre of the uncluttered space, there are no props, costumes or tricks to hide behind. The piece is as stripped back and exposed as expected and each of the women involved showcases her talent without the obstruction of theatrical trappings. Particular highlights of the piece include the posing of insightful questions such as “What would your vagina say?” and the classification of an orchestra of various orgasmic moans (award for the tiniest squeak goes to ‘White Anglo-Saxon female’).
As the audience traipsed into the drama studio, the cast loitered about the stage; as half of them (pretend to) flash their vaginas, the other half draw their findings and pin them up for the audience to see. This really sets the tone for the piece; from the outset, The Vagina Monologues is hilarious and shocking, (enjoyably) awkward and always enlightening.
At the play’s end, after a lengthy and thoroughly deserved applause, the audience were invited down to write their own messages and thoughts on an equally lengthy expanse of paper. Reading those messages, it was patently clear that not only was UEA’s Vagina Monologues very well received, but that it inspired a lot of vaginal appreciation, which is certainly not a bad thing.