Being a male of the species, I was very much in the minority taking my seat in the Volunteer Hall on Saturday night for ‘The Vagina Monologues’.
The girls night out vibe that the cast were hoping to create was achieved with bells on as cliques of local ladies gathered to see the famous Eve Ensler play brought to the Duns stage.
At the heart of the show were the experiences of women from all over the world, both humorous and brutally honest, which made for an evening which both raised a smile and tugged firmly on the heart strings.
The rights of the Broadway play dictate that whoever performs it doesn’t make any changes to the script and its contents certainly didn’t pull any punches.
The subjects covered in ‘The Vagina Monologues’ ranged from childbirth to genital multilation and rape, which meant that as well as the audience experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions, the cast had to switch gears as well. But regardless of whether the story they were reciting was designed to raise a giggle or a tear, the common theme throughout was the respect the women had for the ladies whose words they were conveying.
The show began with a whistle stop tour of different words for vagina around the world featuring the likes of, fairy, ladygarden and nancy which the cast had on good authority was what ladies of Duns like to refer to theirs!
This got things off to a lighthearted start which continued with Karen Lerpiniere’s take on the monologue ‘My Angry Vagina’ which expressed a disdain for tampons, medical implements and thongs.
Things took a more sombre turn when Karen’s daughter Lizzie performed the harrowing ‘My Vagina Was My Village’, compiled from testimonies of Bosnian women subject to brutal attacks in rape camps. The words of the monologue were packed full of emotion and Lizzie did so well to get through it with such delicate conviction.
Another monologue which brought a chill to the room was ‘The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could’, about a teenage girl who was raped but like Lizzie, Lorna Chappell didn’t allow the disturbing subject of the piece to overpower her performance.
The Vagina Monolgues wasn’t a show for the easily offended. It wasn’t gratuitous or smutty but it was very real and very to the point.
This meant that there was some coarse language at times but at no point did it feel like this was just thrown in to shock.
The monologue performed by Liz Hardy involved the repeating of a certain ‘c word’ but as unpleasant as the word is it was used in a manner which could only have raised a smile thanks to Liz’s stage presence and comic timing.
The same too could be said for Christine Lerpiniere who brought the house down with her reading of ‘The Women Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy’. I say reading but it was more the sound effects that Christine created that made her performance so memorable. I won’t say too much about it but anyone familiar with the famous scene in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ will catch my drift.
The final monologue of the night seemed to strike a chord for many in the room- Eve Ensler’s own memories of being at the birth of her granddaughter which provided a fitting conclusion.
Rather than being intimidating or embarassing, glancing around the room it seemed that more than anything Saturday’s gutsy performance of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ united the women in the audience.
It’s rare for a show to create such a sense of female empowerment but whether it be through a tear or a chuckle that’s exactly what Karen, Lizzie, Liz, Christine, Lorna and Rose Wood- who took on a narrator-style role for the night, did and the rapturous reception they received as they took their bows was fully deserved.