Jasmine Alice, Hawthorne Thetare Reviewer
As soon as I stepped into the Hawthorne theatre tonight, I was hit by a tremendous buzz of excitement, and I soon realised that the show I was about to witness was to be of the same nature; full of energy and enthusiasm. As I looked around, I took in various groups of animated ladies, ranging from young to elderly, all here and full of eagerness for the same reason. We were about to unite as an audience, and embark on an emotional journey to reinvent the way we think and feel about our ‘lady parts’ and also who we are as women.
Although you would think the distinctly transparent title ‘The Vagina Monologues’ would definitely scare off any males, it was a nice surprise to see a small number come and be a part of the experience. I personally wouldn’t put it on the ‘top ten things to do on a stag night’ list but it was nice to know there were some fellers there in support of female friends and relatives who hadn’t already run a mile, as expected!
The monologues themselves were created from the results of a series of interviews by Eve Ensler, and were performed by three actresses; Hollie-Jay Bowes; Terri Dwyer and Diane Keen. The trio shared a spectacular presence yet each also upheld an individual quality, showing great versatility and a clear understanding for the pieces.
I particularly thought that there was a good balance in regards to the ages of the actresses, and this reflected in the monologues, as the audience was led through a spectrum of maturity and mental and emotional attitudes.
The set was simple, and included a red semi-circle base with three chairs, two tables and the occasional spotlight. I was drawn to the red floor arrangement, and I felt the scarlet half-moon cleverly symbolised the vagina itself, with it’s mouth shape acting as an entrance. The backdrop held lots of twinkling lights, resembling a mass of stars and to me, conveyed the amounts of different stories and personalities from the interviews shining through and reminding us of their existence. The chairs were each facing forward, ensuring every word was directed at the audience. I really liked the simplicity of the staging as it felt very much like we were all together having a conversation, rather than being spoken down to.
The best thing about the whole performance for me, was the pure honesty in the ‘stories’ and monologues shared, as it was very clear they were an appropriate dramatisation of real events and opinions – spoken and shared by real women. I could tell I wasn’t the only audience member who felt this way by the great reactions given to the script, especially when some vulgar names for the vagina were mentioned..
(..but I’ll let you guess those for yourselves!)
As a part of the audience, I felt very much included and I really enjoyed the personal touch of interacting with us, the dear folk (Or more like rowdy women!) of Welwyn Garden City. I believe this only helped spur on the crowd even more, to bring bigger better responses during the rest of the show.
During the evening, a selection of happy facts about the female intimate parts were administered and some not-so-chirpy, yet extremely touching truths too. This really put life into perspective for the audience who were very interested and seemed to soak in all the given information. I found it amazing how attentive a not-so-long-ago raucous crowd could be, when drawn in by the right actors.
My favourite monologue of the evening was definitely one which made good use of the ‘c-word!’ I found myself being more drawn-in every time the naughty word was said (and believe me, that was quite a few times!) For me, it gave the obscenity a new ‘reclaimed’ meaning and perspective. Throughout the whole play was an abundance of humour and wit, which made the experience altogether give you a reason to smile. Not to mention the hilarious and surprising short display of fireworks, which really added an extra spark to a great night!
Overall, I would recommend ‘The Vagina Monologues’ as a really enjoyable show, which definitely deserves a standing ovulation!
Johnny Tait, Local Comedian and Hawthorne Theatre Lover!
As I and my companion walked into the large foyer of the Hawthorne Theatre on Monday evening, one could sense that there was a good feel about the show we were about to see and a real fun exciting buzz was in the air. The bar staff were working flat out, the wine was flowing freely, it was obvious that tonight was not going to be like any other night at the theatre. The Ladies were out in force, they were going to make it their night. The auditorium was absolutely packed and before the show began I was looking around to see if I could spot any other men. Having spent most of my life seeking out women, this was a strange experience in itself. Was I the only man there? The show we were about to see was 'The Vagina Monologues' I knew nothing about the show and did not what to expect, the cast consisting of 3 women Hollie-Jay Bowes, Terri Dwyer and Diane Keen were sat on high chairs and immediately they began talking about Ladies private parts and quoting a long list of the slang terms used for that part, and they did not beat about the bush, some of the words had the audience laughing whilst others made us squirm.
"Women don't make good comedians" Is a saying I have heard many times. Well if you believe that then you are totally wrong, their delivery was spot on and when it came to comic timing their fingers were right on the button. The cast interacted with the audience in such a warm friendly way that they even manage to break down the inhibitions the ladies had and got them calling out a word that I was brought up to understand was taboo to say in front of women. Most of the tales they told were funny and lighthearted, but there were also tales of abuse and female genital mutilation which at times made me shudder and feel ashamed to be a man. The Vagina monologues enjoyed a long run in London's west end before moving to Broadway and is currently half way through a nationwide tour. And having seen the show for myself I can fully understand why it plays to packed houses wherever it goes. Though I did find listening to Ladies talk about nothing but vagina's throughout the performance a little bit tiresome. Maybe because the subject matter is something that I like most men know virtually nothing about.