Review: The Vagina Monologues

Although I am not a Vagina virgin, this week's production at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, still brought a fresh approach to Eve Ensler's long-running show. 

In case of any confusion, I should explain that I'm talking about The Vagina Monologues, which replaced the programmed Kiss Me Kate this week.

Described as the ultimate girls' night out, the audience was largely composed of women anticipating a good time - with a handful of slightly apprehensive-looking men thrown in for good measure.

Eve Ensler's show - first performed by her in the USA in 1996 and since performed and published in more than 25 countries - is a 90-minute collection of soliloquies based on interviews with more than 200 women, including sex workers, college professors and survivors of Bosnian rape camps - all exploring the humour, power, pain, outrage and excitement hidden in vaginas.

The show has been performed in the past by actresses as diverse as Jerry Hall, Miriam Margolyes and Mel B.

The trio taking part at the Lyceum are Su Pollard - and I have to say I was waiting a little nervously for her to shout out "vagi-de-gi" - Ellen Thomas (pictured), who is probably best known for playing the part of Liz in Channel 4's Teachers, and recent Celebrity Big Brother contestant Caprice.

Su Pollard deservedly got the most laughs at the performance I attended, but the joy of the show is how the three performers work together.

Sporting black outfits with red feather boas, they gelled very well together, delivering the monologues—that range from side-splittingly funny to unbearably sad - in their different styles.

Su's performance of a triple orgasm certainly rivalled THAT famous scene in When Harry Met Sally, while you could have heard a pin drop during Ellen Thomas's very moving delivery of the experience of a victim of the Bosnian rape camps.

But the beauty of the show is that the truly harrowing and distressing tales are interspersed with very much lighter moments - complete with audience participation, when we were encouraged to shout out four-letter slang words not usually heard in polite society.

And Caprice, after a somewhat shaky start, proved herself a very able performer, entering into the spirit of the evening with a certain amount of ad- libbing.

Performances of The Vagina Monologues help to support V-Day, which supports projects aimed at ending violence towards women.

So, if it's tears and laughter you are after in a fun and thoughtful trip to the theatre - supporting a good cause - I can thoroughly recommend The Vagina Monologues, which plays until tomorrow. 

Rotheram Advertiser
July 2005