What could have very easily been an hour and a half of angry feminists ranting on a stage was one of the cleverest, wittiest and most poignant pieces of theatre I have seen in a very long time. This production of The Vagina Monologues should be running for much longer on campus than just one day. Far from shoving their message down audience’s throats, the Women’s Network has created a piece of theatre that engages, educates and above all dispels all taboo notions on sex, feminist issues, and of course vaginas.

One of the cleverest, wittiest and most poignant pieces of theatre I have seen in a very long time

The play opened with one of the directors explaining the purpose of the production, followed by an harrowing video of women being oppressed across the globe, yet standing up to fight and dance in the face of their adversity. I admit, when this video was playing I thought I was in for an hour or so of lectures on, don’t get me wrong, very important, issues in the world. I was wrong. The opening monologue was hilarious. Never have I heard a woman detailing her experience at a ‘vagina workshop’ and the discovery of her clitoris. Her acting was superb.

A truly spectacular piece of theatre

Yet even with the hilarity and comedic timing of many of the monologues, the core message was never lost. This was due in a large part to the interjection of short speeches giving facts and statistics about the issues being raised in the monologues. It was these short interjections that brought the audience back down to earth. They kept the core message in sight at all times, never allowing the comedy to outshine the message that rape of women, subjection and blatant misusage of women is fundamentally wrong. I don’t know if these were a part of the original script or if it was a decision by the directorial team to include them but I don’t believe the play would have had the same impact had they not been included.

The play clearly struck a chord with the audience

The Vagina Monologues, as one of its core values, has an all female cast. But the directorial decision to include a monologue written by a male journalist was inspired. Not only did the inclusion of this monologue prevent the play from being female dominated in both content and outlook, it also reminded the audience that men care about these issues too. The male journalist, played by a girl to maintain the ethos of The Vagina Monologues, had visited a brothel to get a story for his newspaper. What was fascinating to see portrayed were his views, reflections and opinions on that situation. Such a view is very rarely given in the discussion of these issues and to have it included in the play really showed how these issues affect each and every one of us. These are not just female problems.

The Vagina Monologues is clever, brutal in its comedy and above all it kept true to its routes in trying to raise awareness of the plight of billions of women in the world

The play clearly struck a chord with the audience. After one particular monologue, where a woman explains why she likes giving women pleasure and the many different variations of ‘moans’ one can have, the audience erupted into laughter and animated discussion about which ‘moan’ they made when having an orgasm. This overt reaction to the play was an obvious indicator that the audience’s attention was grabbed and engaged throughout the play, which is, I believe, the best indicator on the success of a play.

The Vagina Monologues is clever, brutal in its comedy and above all it kept true to its roots in trying to raise awareness of the plight of billions of women in the world. A truly spectacular piece of theatre, as many people as possible should see this show.

Star-Rating-51

Emma Lawton 

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