If Beth Dunnington’s vagina got dressed up, it would wear Armani. At least, it would according to Eve Ensler’s show, “The Vagina Monologues,” which packed the house at the Kahilu Theatre last weekend to three sold out performances. Written in 1996, the stage play was inspired by interviews with hundreds of women about their relationship with their vaginas.
Opening the show was comedy superstar Roseanne Barr who had the audience in stitches describing vaginal reconstruction and her bewilderment over “that other v-word — viagra.” “That’s for old men,” said Barr. “Nobody wants to have sex with old men. Thanks a lot Obamacare!”
Director Jane Sibbett, upheld the reputation of “The Vagina Monologues” by maintaining a quality production that has kept audiences coming back around the globe, year after year, for 18 years. The show featured over a dozen pieces, some heartfelt, some humorous and some heart wrenching.
Each monologue had a unique perspective and emotional tone, which the cast portrayed realistically, but without stereotyping the characters. Barbara Schatz-Harris shares the powerful story of girl who was raped as a child, then at the age of 16 discovers sexual pleasure with an older woman.
Sara Hagen discovers herself, literally, in the “Vagina Workshop” monologue, where she portrays a woman who examines her vagina with a mirror for the first time and feels “how early astronomers must have felt with primitive telescopes.”
Some of the stories had an international perspective such as the story “My Vagina Was My Village,” in which Yisa Var shares the horrifying reality of war through her character’s devastating experience of being gang raped by enemy soldiers in Eastern Europe. Valerie Pointdexter and Tess Yong portray the atrocities of rape and mutilation endured by Korean “Comfort Women” by Japanese soldiers.
“My Angry Vagina” was a magnificent rant about the inhumane treatment of vaginas, which included a side-note about how better underwear could mean happier vaginas by ditching the thong and adding french ticklers to comfortable undergarments.
Naomi Peters added some comic relief as the lawyer turned dominatrix in the skit “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy.” Her monologue ended in an amusing exhibition of assorted orgasmic sounds such as, the Diva moan (a high operatic note), the doggy moan (a panting sound), the Irish Catholic moan (“forgive me”), and of course, the tortured Zen moan (ooommm).
The show doesn’t hold back about exposing the sexism that pervades our society and other cultures around the world. It faces difficult subjects head on. Topics such as rape, molestation, and violence as well as the empowerment associated with womanhood including positive sexual experiences, and the miracle of child birth.
The talented cast did an exceptional job conveying the intimacy of the women’s stories with compassion. The time between the monologues alternated between sharing facts about women and their vaginas, and posing analytical style questions about vaginas. Questions like “What would your vagina wear?” and “What would your vagina say?” were asked and the cast would shout their answers to the audience, making it feel like an amusing group therapy session.
Other cast members include Binti Bailey, Ronja Giesser, Harmony Graziano, Rona Lee, Veronica Moore, Robin O’Hara, Jan Rae, Madeline Schatz-Harris, Elizabeth Sharma-Shimek, Shanon Sidell, Maia Tarnas, and Corine Tilson.
The cast involved in this year’s production both enlightened the audience, as well as evoked deeply felt emotions on very sensitive subjects. All proceeds from the “The Vagina Monologues” are being donated to organizations that help women and children escaping from violent situations.