What’s there to say about The Vagina Monologues that hasn’t already been said? By this point, Eve Ensler’s play has transcended the stage and become a global phenomenon, with its annual performances fundraising for women’s anti-violence groups across the world, and the fraught debates about the play’s politics constantly subject to public argument. It seems that it’s not really theater anymore so much as a mission statement for millions of empowered women all over. With all of that in mind, the question is, does it still hold up as a play?
V-Day Claremont’s production reminds us that it does. The Vagina Monologues works best when it raises the question of why a woman’s relationship with her body should be a political gesture, and monologues such as “The Flood,” in which an old woman describes her abstracted and distant relationship with her “down-theres,” deftly accomplish this. “No, there was no accident down there!” she exclaims defensively; there needn’t have been. Another exemplary monologue in this regard features a younger woman describing the discovery of her clitoris—“I didn’t see it as something attached to me,” she admits. This is the power of The Vagina Monologues, that what these women assert and celebrate is simply a basic human impulse, one that unfortunately gets conflated in political mire. Women are people, and people shouldn’t be at war with their own bodies. This fact is stupidly obvious, and yet somehow it isn’t. Somehow it feels controversial.
But that would come to nothing if it weren’t competently brought to stage, and the 5C actors performing in V-Day's production succeed in this endeavor. The monologists commit absolutely to their text and deliver their performances with vibrant physical energy and apt dramatic intuitions, sometimes letting the material settle and other times breathlessly firing off their lines, depending on which method suits the moment best. It’s compelling stuff delivered vivaciously: fun at times, sobering at others, and always thought-provoking.
V-Day Claremont’s annual performance of The Vagina Monologues runs today and tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Pitzer’s Benson Auditorium.