Reviewed by Ruthie Luff
29 NOVEMBER 2012
Richmond Theatre, London
Having seen the Vagina Monologues more times than I can remember, and having produced it before as well, I went to the Richmond Theatre with a very clear idea of what I was in for. The 99% female audience who flooded the theatre, probably did as well.
The Vagina Monologues, in case you haven’t heard of them before, is a collection of stories based on author Eve Ensler’s ‘Vagina Interviews’. It is essentially a series of candid discussions with women from around the world. Some are heart breaking, when recalling sexual abuse, others are awe-inspiring, recalling childbirth, and others are just out right hilarious, recalling how torturous feminine exams can be. This production at the Richmond Theatre, offered a brilliant selection of monologues by 3 amazingly talented women: Clare Buckfield (Dancing on Ice Finalist, Two Point Four Children), Vicky Entwistle (Janice Battersby in ‘Coronation Street’) and Hayley Tamaddon (Emmerdale, Dancing on Ice).
The stage was set with a star lit curtain and 3 red stools with 3 spot lights, marking the transitions of each monologue. It was simple yet perfect for this piece. Expertly interacting with one another and to the audience, these three really put on a fantastic show. Each woman showed their strengths by taking on a handful of monologues, which benefited from a variety of outrageous accents and physical gestures. What really stood out was the the way the three women supported one another as they spoke – they were a trio, almost hosting a type of women only talk show. As familiar as I was with the material, Clare, Vicky and Hayley reinvented each monologue, bringing a new angle and laugh out loud hilarity, to each speech.
Clare Buckfield was a favourite as she showed great versatility. She performed the Village monologue, a story of a young woman who had been repeatedly raped in Bosnia, with sensitivity and real heart. She also nailed the hilarious moaning monologue. When she reached “The Triple Orgasm moan” – she went flying off of her red stool, and hit some operatic notes while thrashing on the stage. This, of course, was topped off with pyrotechnics. We couldn’t have been more appreciative for this glorious climax! Before returning to her stool she brilliantly added: “Six months pregnant and still going!” After that, it was impossible not to be a Clare Buckfield fan. What a woman!
Equally outrageous and captivating was Vicky Entwistle. Comedic timing is Vicky’s forte. She found ways of making the material even funnier, especially the monologue: “My Vagina is Angry”. She shouted and hollered the woes of every woman! She adjusted her monologue to suit the British audience. Hayley Tamaddon was brilliant as well. She brought a physicality to the speeches that lifted the words to new heights.
These three knock out women, held the attention of some 800 people for 2 hours without leaving their stool. That alone deserves an applause. The only hitch for me was that they held cue-cards for the entire show. Surely for a one-night performance, and with their exceptional talent they wouldn’t have required safety net cheat sheets. Thankfully, though, they were hardly referred to.
The show was exceptionally well received by the audience. I couldn’t help but be annoyed that even when prompted by a pre-show announcement, the person sitting next to me failed to turn off their mobile, and, naturally, it went off in one of the more serious moments. Always turn off your phone! Or, as the girls mentioned, put it on vibrate… and enjoy the show!