‘The Vagina Monologues’ tackles cultural taboo

theater review

‘The Vagina Monologues’ tackles cultural taboo

Erika Wilkins

Spectrum Editor

lture renders women as emotional beings who love deeply and profoundly–uninhibited about their “feelings.” In some respects, considering the mothers and caretakers who so often depict them, these stereotypes seem to hold true.

When it comes to love of self however, the convention disintegrates. Thursday night, “The Vagina Monologues” at Shafer Street Playhouse begged the question, are women afraid to love?

Dressed in varying shades of red and pink, the actors in “Monologues” descended the stage, taking their places around the audience as the director, Elizabeth Popp, wished the crowd a “vag-tastic” evening. And a “vag-tastic” evening it was.

From the aptly titled segments like “Because He Liked to Look at It” and “The Flood” to the outstanding acting from Martha Johnson and Liz Venz, among others, the show was one delightful commentary after another.

First the players rattled off colloquial terms for vagina – poochie, pussycat, front butt – then moved to musing on what, if anything, your vagina might dress itself in; diamonds or machine-washable cotton perhaps? Though the introspections might seem trivial on the surface, in reality, they shed light on a conversational taboo.

For some women, the word “vagina” solicits a visceral physical reaction. For some, the thought of seeing a vagina in print or on film is less desirable than yearly mammograms. For some, the idea of looking at their own vagina is both outrageous and unnecessary.

Why are women so afraid to love their vaginas? Eve Ensler’s script gives myriad possible answers to that cultural phenomenon. But her script alone is just brilliant—it isn’t charming. It requires engaging, believable actors with a requisite level of familiarity (if you’re going to discuss the personal intricacies of your vagina, you’d probably prefer to talk with your friends than your gynecologist).

It is a challenge Popp met head on. The actors weren’t perfect (they even read from note cards) but their gritty realness and unabashed sentiment for the dialogue was magnificent. It was obvious that all of the participants took the material seriously.

In the end, this rendition of “The Vagina Monologues” was more than just another production. It opened the gateway for conversation on all things vagina, and left each audience member with the parting feeling that it is not only OK to talk about vaginas, but to know and enjoy them. After all, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

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