posted 2012-03-21 23:36:42

The Vagina Monologues: A Review

An eye-opening night of sex, tears and hilarity

Allison Smith

Staff Writer

One is a little unsure of what to expect when seeing The Vagina Monologues for the first time. Sure, you hear some bits here and there about how the proceeds go towards preventing violence against women, but you don’t get the details. On the surface, V-Day is simply an activist movement promoting women’s rights around the globe, but it really works to take traditionally illicit subject matter, spoken about only in hushed whispers, and slam it in your face. Vaginas. Even more though, it gives a voice to women through performances that are all at once gritty, heartbreaking and hilarious.

The play begins with an introduction lined by the awkwardness and near-secrecy typically associated with the reproductive organ. The first monologue rattled through the various names given to the female sex organ, ranging from the clinical “vagina,” to the overly cute and even confusing, “coochie snorcher.” The monologue depicted the discomfort associated with the word vagina; how it can instantly kill a sexual mood, and how the name itself sounds like something akin to an infection.

As a whole, The Vagina Monologues is pretty unique, and not just because of its controversial subject matter, but rather because it presents it with such unconventional flair. The Vagina Monologues has no music—other than the ominous drum beats that precede each monologue—and no plot. The staging is relatively stark, and the overall lighting is simple. In fact, the play is mostly defined by its ability to take seemingly unrelated stories, and thematically weave them together in order to access brave new territory.

Despite its emotional power, The Vagina Monologues most prominent attribute is its use of humor. One monologue categorizes the various moans women make. Another, titled “My Angry Vagina,” hilariously examines the trials of women going through of pelvic exams and the like. If the subject matter lacks in any way though, the performance also includes the tossing of tampons into the crowd.

Even some of the darker, more dramatic pieces are rife with raw humor and in-your-face honesty. A somber story of a young girl who was sexually abused by her male family members turns around with the subsequent telling of her first lesbian experience. The script’s hilarious wit and the performers’ boldness does wonders to tell a compelling story. For those who welcome it, The Vagina Monologues captures a very strong message; our society has yet to fully embrace the freedoms and sexualities of women.

The crux of the show lies in the hope to break through social norms contingent to women, and to make society’s “no’s,” a unified “yes.”

The Hunter students on stage gave electric performances. Each actress delivered her monologue with an all- consuming zeal and an energy felt easily from rows away. Each actress also brought individual flavor to make each character unique. With incredible poignancy, these amazing performers traversed the minds and feelings of every woman imaginable— the young, old, white, black, Jewish, Atheist, student, sex worker, etcetera—in a wholly successful effort to reveal human stories that defy gender stereotypes and contradict patriarchy.

Both surprising and terrific, a large amount of men attended the performance in the Kaye Playhouse. For a play that intends, at least in part, to end violence against women, it goes without saying that men play a crucial role. After all, preventing gender violence does little when only one side chooses to care.

Unsurprisingly, The Vagina Monologues completely sold out at Hunter. Now a worldwide sensation, the show has become a reliable hit. In a world where women are often taught to be fearful and even ashamed of their bodies, it’s amazing to see something that defiantly says otherwise. The Vagina Monologues is one hilarious metaphor for the struggle that women face every day, but how wonderful and empowering it can be to be a woman and rise up from those struggles.