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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Anatomy of an Eve-ning

My friend Gar called me the other evening and told me that he had won free tickets for the production of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ in Spirit on Middle Abbey Street and asked me if I wanted to go.

Oh I was terrified.

I was totally clueless about this play. I had heard of it, of course and had even (unknowingly) met its author Eve Ensler (she had been a guest in the Long Island hotel I was working in three summers ago. One day I noticed her reading the Hillary Clinton memoirs on the beach and got talking to her. She loved the Irish accent. I only found out later who she was).

Before I saw it, I had two images in my mind as to what it would be like.

1) Something like that episode of ‘Friends’ where Joey wants to get rid of the others for the evening in order to hold a party for his actor friends so he gets them tickets to a one woman play. Chandler is the only one who can attend and spends the next two hours being shouted at by an angry, pre-menstrual uber-feminist.

2) Or/and there would be huge props on stage – kind of like the huge plant in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ that sings and talks, which would result in my having nightmares for days, weeks, months to come.

As it turns out, this was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve seen in a long time. Yes, it was a predominantly female audience but this play (and subject matter) has, er, wide appeal. ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is uproariously funny, thought-provoking and poignant. Much of the humour stems from the unbridled honesty of the writing and the general shock of hearing women talk so intimately about their, you know...

You could hear a pin drop when the actresses – Norma Sheehan, Fenella Fielding and, ahem, Glenda Gilsen (surprisingly good!) – delivered monologues by women from Afghanistan and a Bosnian rape camp. These quiet, powerful moments are more than balanced out by tear-inducing comic set pieces, such as a thorough listing of all the different names for the vagina, a vocal, communal reclaiming of the word ‘cunt’ and – best of all – a cataloguing of all the different kinds of female orgasms. Norma Sheehan – best known from RTE’s ‘The Clinic’ – is a star in the making.

Hilarious, moving, entertaining, enlightening (perhaps too much so) plus a portion of the door charge goes to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: going to see ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is as good a reason as I can muster for you to spend one evening away from the box (tee hee hee).

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