The Vagina Monologues By Eve Ensler
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Press Reviews


“Eve Ensler’s one-woman show returns as glorious as before: warm, open, exciting, enchantingly funny, hilariously enchanting – and I choose my words carefully. Ensler’s monologues are based on interviews with women of different ages and nationalities; they are free and uninhibited, but this is not, I repeat not, a salacious show. It has the kind of erotic intelligence that goes with a mature, open emotional life. It shows you how dirty the phrase ‘adult entertainment’ really is. It is not preachy, it never condescends, it is not sanctimonious. It reminds you that ‘moral’ can, in the wrong hands be a dirty word. It is about being a sexual being who can afford to be demanding and proud. When Ensler talks about gang-raped Bosnian women, she is talking about an assault on their pride. Sex is both your identity and your happiness, and Ensler celebrates it like a laughing princess. John Peter and Robert Hewison.


“Spellbindingly funny and almost unbearably moving…a startling piece of theatre…it does raise one’s consciousness – but then so does most good art. It rubs the funny bone, sometimes gently, sometimes violently. It alternately warms and saddens the heart. It occasionally shocks the sensibility, it sears the soul, it deserves to be a sell-out again on wildfire word of mouth. An indelible theatrical experience, which is both a work of art an an incisive piece of cultural history, a poem and a polemic, a performance and a balm and a benediction.” Charles Isherwood.


As a virgin to the Vagina Monologues, it was difficult, despite the hype, to know exactly what to expect. After the frankly disappointing ‘Puppetry Of The Penis’, was this more-established show merely another in a series of naked attention=seekers, and if so what were we to expect next? Genitals – the Musical? Testicles for two? Arseholes Anonymous? The set itself discloses little about why celebrities such as Glenn Close, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep and Erica Jang have been clamouring to participate in the show. Shout the word ‘C**T’ in public places, and celebrate V Day. A raised seat is framed by a backdrop in the themed colours of red and shocking pink, while a row of shoes – no doubt in the category immortalised by Germain Greer as ‘ f**k me’ – point their toes coyly towards the audience. Rachel Halliburton.

Then Eve Ensler walks on stage to share her forbidden fruit. Ensler who interviewed more than 200 women for the production which premiered off-Broadway in 1997 – epitomises New York skinny, latte-metropolitanism, with her shiny dark bob, bright red lipstick, stylishly simple black dress, illusion cracking wit and undisguised love of therapy-talk. Within seconds she captures her audience, both male and female. After appealing to trivia lovers by giving alternative names for the vagina ranging from pooky to coochysnorcher, she heads straight for that other V word, vulnerable, in her opening about whe her husband needed to shave her vagina for him to enjoy sex with her. Ensler’s gift is that she has the charisma to bypass the squirm factor in such details. The result is a wittily honest investigation about how women feel about their sexuality.

A Sunday broadsheet columnist – who significantly read the monologues on the web rather than watch them be performed – dismissed Enslers show as the kind of work that allows ‘self-important luvvies to feel radical and dangerous’. This misses the point of a work which is inescapabley universal for women, and manages to be feminist without man-hating, entertaining with being trite, and political without being earnest. One moment Ensler is asking what your vagina would wear – ‘specticles’ is one response – the next she is describing a tax lawyer who has found fulfilment as a professional vaginaphile, then you hear the chilling facts about a female circumcision. If you cant deal with such details, then you shouldn’t be at a play could ‘Vagina Monologues’. If you can, just lie back and enjoy.

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