The Vagina Monologues; taboo- addressing, unafraid, and completely well-rounded, the production selected by BOGS and Medics Drama was a fantastic choice. It channeled the fury, grievance and subsequent resistance which is running the world over in its current political climate. Over two decades old, this episodic play feels even more relevant now than in seemingly idyllic years past.
Composed of female confessions and tales, it addresses how having a vagina can be troublesome at times, while discussion surrounding it still stigmatised. Flooding whenever, wherever with whatever it fancies at the time, vaginas have a history of being embarrassing, ignored and ironically, quite un-sexy. Yet, this play reminds women that vaginas are what unite them; they are not there to be judged or utilised for sex, but to be appreciated, valued, and you know what? It should be goddamn worshipped too. Yes, that is what the play has shown me – I should worship my vagina. Well, that’s maybe too extreme, but I should see it as a form of empowerment at the very least, rather than undermining it as conversational topic under some gross nicknames like ‘minge’ or ‘vadge’.
Using the hilarious, controversial script of Eve Ensler, this student production was thoroughly believable. The characters starkly different from one another as it oscillated between comedy and devastatingly sad twists. Particularly engaging was Manji Joshi’s opening of the show with her monologue about a woman who felt forced to shave her pubic hair just to keep her husband sexually interested. Her irate actions, direct eye contact and strength in stance showed personal grooming expectations can exist even within the safe confines of a marriage.
Tash Lakin must be mentioned too; her self-conscious but vivacious old woman only more humorous with the addition of her slipping grey wig, she brought comedy along with depth of emotion. Molly Nobes’ contrasting ‘Angry Vagina’ monologue made you realise that vaginas were so amazing, we should never slag them off again (mainly out of fear of her indignant character). Poppy Jenkinson described a woman’s first experience with masturbation. AD Vu embodying a six year old describing the smell of her vagina (not as strange as it sounds). The vocalisation of trans-gender women and monologues from girls who had suffered from GM. This rich variety gave the play an undercurrent of sincerity, reminding you that vaginas aren’t just a sexual organ but part of the body; a part which can be taken away, mutilated and reduced - in turn reducing the very essence of who we are.
But the director (Hayley Hall) left the best monologue to the second half; Julia McLaughin became the most embarrassing figure I’ve seen on stage in a long time, and thus one of the most memorable. Acting as a woman who worked to give other women pleasure, her triple-tiered mocking orgasms gave the famous Harry Met Sally scene a run for its money. I think that was the most enthusiastic moaning I have ever heard – each moan narrated. She brought the vagina back to its most light-hearted function; a pleasure organ which often seems to work against your inbred elegance and works against what historically represents a woman (you know, grace, courtesy, elegance etc. etc.)
Yet, to critique this piece, there was perhaps a little lack of overall chemistry between all the girls. The performances didn’t flow that well in between due to the odd dip in enthusiasm; but they did have big boots to fill. Even so, it was still a celebration of women’s sexuality, and the piece gained momentum as it continued. There was not an empty seat in the house. All performed in the name of charity it is of course, a worthy cause; it was a heart-warming night.
Admittedly, there were less than ten men in the audience. Unsurprisingly too, since the script no doubt excludes them, some even arguing that it paints men in a negative light. Whilst this piece may be more relevant than ever with the recent Women’s March and the abortion controversies in the USA, if I was a man after watching that I would also feel somewhat hard done by with my boring genitals. So if we are to approach 2017 demanding equality against a Trump-ian White House, perhaps we should address men’s relationship with their genitals too (dick pics aside); The Penis Monologues, anyone?