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The Vagina Monologues
So many women, so many stories

Review: The Vagina Monolgues

by Wendy Barton-O'Neill
Upon hearing that this much-hyped play was coming to York, reviewer Wendy decided it simply had to seen. And then promptly began to wonder just what exactly she would see...

My friend Sarah and I went to see The Vagina Monologues at York's Grand Opera House, on February 28th. Beforehand, I was both intrigued and anxious. After all, it was a bit of a rude word. Would we actually see any vaginas? Would I be expected to show mine? (As it turned out I didn’t see any actual vaginas, although there was plenty of gyrating).

I must gently advise you to stay at home if you are easily offended or have a phobia of your vagina (or anyone else's), because as the title suggests, there is a lot of talking and it's about vaginas.

Whatever you do though, if you come or not, don’t let the title lure you into thinking this is some kind of hen-party type evening out.

"Looking around me I saw women of all ages, and they were all laughing their muffs off"

The Vagina Monologues was written by Eve Ensler, god bless her. She had a conversation with an older woman, who had a very hostile relationship with her monkey box. Apparently this woman hated her vagina and Eve got to thinking about what other women thought about their vaginas, or their fairies, or their poopaloos (the list of pet names for this body part range from the funny to the down right scary).

Eve was surprised at the willingness and candour her friends showed in talking about their fazakerleys. One friend told Eve if her vagina got dressed it would wear a beret - she was going through a French phase at the time.

And so Eve Ensler, god bless her, began to write The Vagina Monologues, a 90 minute collection of soliloquies based on interviews with over 200 women; from college professors to Jewish matrons in Queens.

Women talked about smear tests ("If you tell me to relax one more time I’m going to remove your head and put it back on - the wrong way round. And after that I’ll stamp on it"), fantasies, female genital mutilation (en-mass crossing of legs and shaking of heads), and orgasms, to name a few. 

Eve then performed a one-woman show off Broadway, in 1996, and since then The Vagina Monologues has been published and performed in over 25 countries. I suppose you could say they became The Magnificient Muffalogues.

I acknowledge the material in The Muffalogues could seem to some completely  outrageous and way over the mark. But looking around me I saw women of all ages, and they were all laughing their muffs off. The atmosphere was like a carnival, it was a minge mingled marvellous mixture of mayhem!

Without sounding like I’m a prude who ignores the reality of her widget, it was liberating to hear these amazing women embracing the words of honest, brave women and re-telling them with such relish.

If you think Meg Ryan had the 'public orgasms' market cornered, well her time is at an end. Kate Webster must have had the men (there were a few!) in the audience squirming. Her boisterous portrayals of orgasms were sheer genius. I'm surprised she didn’t lose her voice. If she was digging deep and using past experiences to demonstrate her orgasmic orgy, then I hate her and hope she gets verruccas on her nicky-nacky-nora.

Jan Sheperd gave a touching monologue, which spoke of unexpected joy and fulfillment. Although I’m not sure I could cope with a ‘Bob’ like she did. Someone loving me and my Nonny noo-noo to the extent ‘Bob’ did would make me slightly tense - he might get carried away and take a bite or something.

How to describe Abi Roberts alludes me. Her portrayal of a plane passenger hitting turbulence, and the ensuing ‘feelings’ in certain areas this provoked, was so funny my Nonny leaked a little.

There were some sad and dark parts too. The monologues from women who had been terribly treated in the world made me tearful, and angry. I was angry that their fairies had been so badly hurt and angry that I couldn’t help them or make them better.
However, out of that despair came a new movement with a voice louder than an earthquake, its message was simple; the violence must stop.

In 2003 Until the Violence Stops was founded to cement this global movement in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It has raised over £70,000 in the last few years and has distributed funds to women's charities all over the country.

So yes 'vagina' is a bit of a rude word, but get real, where does the sneaky sperm swim into to make sweet little babies? How does it get to the womb? Yeesh! And unless your mummy had medical complications or she was too posh to push you will have come bawling into the world buck naked via a vagina.

I almost threw myself on stage and pleaded for more when Kate, Abi and Jan finished off monologing and wafted off stage taking their vaginas with them. But I pulled myself together and realised I had a huge smile on my face, and went home happy in the knowledge my very own Madge the Vag was all smiley too.

Wendy Barton-O'Neill

last updated: 05/03/07
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