It’s been twenty years since The Vagina Monologues was first written and performed, and what’s changed? This landmark play has influenced feminist discourse across the world and it’s as relevant today as ever.
This incarnation from Real Arts uses the original monologues performed by eleven different women. Against the sumptuous backdrop of Proud Cabaret in Camden, all red drapes and crystal chandeliers, The Vagina Monologues is a sexy celebration of femininity and decries violence against women. From brutal accounts of rape and female genital mutilation to recollections of vagina workshops and sexual awakenings, the tone of the piece is bold and brassy.
The monologues were written following interviews with over 200 women in New York. The authenticity of the stories – raw, unpolished and often painful – is enhanced by the delivery of the performers, many of who are on stage for the first time in their lives. There are some stand-out stars of the evening; Adriana Candeias is deeply sensual in her rendition of “The Vagina Workshop” and Hana Sim is on fire in the hilarious “My Angry Vagina” monologue.
The sense of support and collaboration between the performers is palpable and the passion is evident. A portion of the profits from ticket sales and the impressive raffle will go to Rape Crisis, a national charity which supports women and girls who have experienced sexual violence. The Vagina Monologues is a rowdy, sex-positive and joyful evening with a vital cause at its core. However, with some stilted delivery and a few too many technical hitches, this show has the feel of a piece in development which would benefit from being tighter and more polished.
Reviewed by Annabel Mellor