When Eve Ensler's one-woman play debuted in New York in 1996, it created something of a stir. Most of the initial excitement came from the play's bold title rather than its challenging content which was no more risqué than a dozen off-Broadway shows running at the time.
No, the first big hurdle for The Vagina Monologues was the title. A work deserving of a large and diverse audience rarely uses any kind of genital description in its title. People tend to be put off.
On one hand, 'vagina' is as bland and anatomical description of a physical feature as one could hope to find. On the other, it is completely unique, of course, to womankind and thus a distinctive, defining and powerful difference between the genders.
And that was exactly the point. Once you accept the first premise, you are open to the second. It's almost The Vagina Paradox. It means nothing; it means everything.
All of which is not to suggest that the content was not controversial and challenging. Every one of the monologues has just one link to the next, the vagina, whether through sex, love, rape, menstruation, masturbation, birth, orgasm or something else. The second, overriding theme is the vagina as a tool of feminism. The content is sometimes playful, occasionally serious and often funny but is always loyal to the central idea of ownership and empowerment.
The UK version of the Monologues has featured a wide range of women in the wide range of women in the three lead roles, including Rula Lenska, Lucy Porter, Jenni Eclair, Trudi Styler, Caprice and even Christine Hamilton. The current touring line-up sees Wendi Peters (Coronation Street), Louisa Lytton (The Bill, Eastenders) and Zaraah Abrahams (Coronation Street, Waterloo Road) under the spotlights.
The UK tour continues tonight in Billingham, followed throughout October and November by performances in Wimbledon, Swansea, Scarborough, Cambridge, Coventry, Stoke, Birmingham, York, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and many more. The final dates of the extensive tour are two nights at the Plymouth Theatre Royal on 3rd and 4th December.
We have tickets available now for many of the dates, priced generally £12 - £20.
Age restrictions vary by venue but many operate a no under-18 rule for The Vagina Monologues - be sure to check before booking.