Tuesday 26 September 2017

The Vagina Monologues - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Written in 1996, Eve Ensler’s collection of monologues in The Vagina Monologues explored issues around sexual experiences, body image, reproduction and sex work. The groundbreaking work was an opportunity for women to reclaim the word ‘cunt’, and in 2017, Deafferent Theatre is bringing its production of the show to the stage as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Deafferent Theatre is a bilingual theatre company that seeks to create inclusive productions, and with The Vagina Monologues this includes telling the story through Auslan, surtitles and voice over translations (both live and pre-recorded), which allows for engaged interaction with the performances and the text. The cast act out several monologues, including 'Hair' and 'My Angry Vagina', and while the play is over 20 years old, there is still relevance to the themes being raised.

Livi Beasley, Ilana Charnelle Gelbart, Hilary Fisher-Stewart and Marnie Kerridge work very well together as an ensemble and deliver some strong performances, particularly from Kerridge who displays brilliant comedic timing and produces some vivid storytelling to the audience.

The set design has the women sitting around a table, enjoying some wine and strawberries with a shopping list written on a board behind them listing oranges, chocolate and tampons as items needed. This informal setting and the relaxed direction of the cast immediately creates a sense of familiarity and honesty, and makes you feel like you are sitting out there with these women.

Being one of only a handful of males in the audience for this show, it was interesting to observe how many of the women vehemently nodded their heads in agreement, burst out laughing and shared their disgust with some of the experiences being relayed. There’s a reason why this play has been performed around the world in various languages as it is still completely relatable.

While The Vagina Monologues might not be as controversial as it once was, through this production that Deafferent Theatre have created, these stories retain their importance and creates an opportunity for women from varying backgrounds to connect with other women that would not have been possible without this show.

Show Information

Venue: Arts House, 521 Queensberry St., North Melbourne 
Season:  Until 30 September | Tues - Sat 6:30pm, Sun 5:30pm 
Length: 60 minutes 
Tickets: $26 Full | $24 Conc 
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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