Arts: ‘The Vagina Monologues’ challenges convention

Have you ever wondered what women think about their vaginas? If you answered yes to this question, Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” is just for you.

“The Vagina Monologues” is not your average play. It is a series of monologues and lists that deal with different aspects of vaginas. Titles of the monologues range anywhere from “The Flood” to “The Little Coochie Snortcher That Could” and the lists give answers to questions including: if your vagina could speak, what would it say?

The show has played for sold-out audiences for two years in New York and elsewhere. It has also been a popular spot for celebrity cameos. Past cast members include Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg, Calista Flockhart and Susan Sarandon.

The National Theatre’s cast consists of Tracey A. Leigh, Amy Love and Kelly McGillis. There are no elaborate costumes or sets. The set was simple: just three bar-stools with adjacent tables, three microphones, three mugs of water and red spot lights beaming on each station. The level of informality runs so high that the performers even hold cards with their monologues written on them.

Greenhorn audiences often find hearing the word “vagina” uncomfortable and awkward. But once the introduction has ended, the audience has warmed to the often-avoided word.

There is no real dramatic acting in the show. Without defined characters, the performers are vital to giving the show life. None leave their chairs at all during the performance. Tracey A. Leigh and Amy Love, the two actresses who are the closest thing to permanent members in the national touring cast of the show, captivate the audience with their different voices and changing body language. The audience can truly relate with the characters. Seldom do they find it necessary to refer back to their scripts.

Kelly McGillis, who was featured until Sunday, when she was replaced by A.C.L.U. president Nadine Strossen, does not convince the audience of her characters. Her dependence on her script limits her body language and eye contact with the audience. McGillis’ co-stars compensate for her average, stunted performance.

A portion of each ticket goes to benefit V-Day Fund which supports groups working to end violence against women. In the District, V-Day has chosen to aid House of Ruth. Money will be donated to help local homeless and abused women and children.

What the play lacks in its simplicity, it makes up for by its mostly strong performers. The show offers a new outlook on sex and on women, and it comes as a near guarantee that you will feel more comfortable using and hearing the word “vagina” forever more.

“The Vagina Monologues”
at The National Theatre
1321 Penn. Ave. N.W.
Box Office: (800) 447-7400
Student discount available
Call for showtimes
Runs through Oct. 28

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.