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|The Vagina Monologues|
Vagina Monologues' keeps its hold on audiences
By Jay Handelman
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
“I bet you’re worried,” the actresses say directly to the audience and to one another. “I bet you’re worried what we think about vaginas. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle. No one ever reports back from there.”
By confronting concerns head on, Ensler makes it easier for the mostly female audience (with a few brave men) to relate, laugh and be touched by comical interjections mixed with some horrifying accounts of women who have been abused or tortured by the men in their lives.
The monologues were created from more than 200 interviews Ensler conducted with women around the world. They were all asked similar questions, leading to some surprising revelations. Ensler originally performed the monologues as a solo show, and then sent it off onto countless stages, where it has been performed, most often by trios, but sometimes by large groups of women taking turns.
In 2006, Venice Theatre had a hit with two runs of the show (with two different casts) featuring seven actresses. The play is back in a new production, staged with a sense of passion by Melliss Kenworthy and performed by three actresses who put varying degrees of emotion and humor into their performances.
Ann Gundersheimer, the most experienced of the actresses, displays the broadest range and evokes the most feeling (and humor) in her scenes, but Zena Brown and Wendy Guerrier (in her stage debut) provide some strong contributions on various levels …
… There are stories about the horrors inflicted by soldiers on Bosnian women, a young girl who discovers she’s a lesbian with a caring mentor and one about a vagina coach encouraging women to discover their bodies. Many in Tuesday’s audience nodded in recognition at some of the thoughts expressed in the monologues.
The stories are all about discoveries, and Gundersheimer sets the show off on the right path with a funny and touching tale of a 72-year-old woman who never overcame sexual embarrassments from her early life and is finally led to confront her fears and herself for the first time.
Guerrier relates the story of a woman who meets an ordinary and seemingly plain guy who surprises her with his appreciation of the female anatomy.
The staging is simple, as the women take turns at center stage, introducing one or another story, and stepping back to allow the words and the women to blossom.