Aurore Padenou’s first production pulled together Director Lorna Dempsey, joined by Juliet Prew, Cara Kiri. Each of the actors gives an astounding performance. They carve out the diverse characters they alternatively play with conviction and tenderness. The Vagina Monologues was written twenty-seven years ago by Artist and activist V, formerly Eve Ensler. Based on interviews with more than 200 women, the play summarises different aspects of the participant’s relationship with the vagina- the hair, the smell, the shame, the pleasure and the hate.
An Obie Award-winning play has enjoyed a sold-out run on Broadway. V also initiated V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women. The vagina monologues have been rewritten, translated and adapted by various grassroots organisations worldwide. It is excellent that this production mentions the clitoris. However, the experience of watching a performance centred on women’s pleasure needs a wider intersectional rewriting. It was jarring not to hear trans realities shortlisted in the stories of the evening. The assumption that Female genital mutilation happens only in Africa, while we are also bombarded with vaginoplasty surgeries that promise women their virginity back, are realities that we must ponder upon.
It was liberating to witness the reclaiming of the words cunt, butch and moaning for pleasure on stage. However, there seems to be an inherent disconnection with the world, where atrocities are being meted out on Uighur and Manipuri women. Trans and queer women have held the baton high, leading the riot to pursue pleasure; how can their stories be left out? Women in fields in India have their uterus removed because of taking too many holidays for their periods. Women worldwide wither in a silent pandemic of repeated fibroids and endometriosis without funding available for cures. At the same time, AI technology is used to create dolls to help men masturbate, and one wonders what those vaginas are whispering and who will tell those stories?
Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil
Reviewed: 15th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: