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“THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES” - Reviewed by:  Richard Lovelock

I came to see this production not knowing what to expect, the title of Breakaway Theatre Company’s latest offering – “The Vagina Monologues” is enough to make a grown man nervous and on the evening I attended it was no surprise that the males in the audience were outnumbered by the females by around twenty to one. Although at times I wondered if I was in a lecture rather than a theatrical performance it was a good evenings entertainment and very well performed.

The show consisted of a combination of soliloquys and short sketches - all with the concurrent theme. Some intentionally funny, some uncomfortably amusing, some uncomfortably painful to hear. Though obviously connected the stories are diverse and were inspired by interviews with women from different backgrounds, ethnicity and ages, so we were entertained by Lesley Cowland’s humorous recital about a ‘flood downstairs’ through to the Margie Skinner’s uncomfortable ‘Six Year Old Girl’.

The highlights were the longer monologues which all in turn included humour and a serious side, following Steph Cotter’s ‘Hair’ I will forever think differently about the lawn around the house.  Jo Emery’s ‘The Vagina Workshop’ showed skill in slowly building up the pace and certainly didn’t lose everything into the ‘black hole’ and Lianne Weidmann really engaged with her ‘My Angry Vagina’.

The most moving of the evening was by Saleema Brohi who in retelling issues of the Bosnian war held a difficult audiences’ attention with moments of silence where you could have heard a pin drop. Susie Wyeth’s ‘Little Coochi Snorcher’ and Abi Giles lawyer come dominatrix also both gave the audience a good performance. Jill Hardman, Ellie Holliday and Clare Waller completed the cast adding to the sense of reality of the show.

I have never been encouraged to shout out loud the ‘C’ word previously and I am not sure that reclaiming that word was aimed at me – however it was enjoyably entered into by a jovial audience and the t-shirts were a surprise ending to the piece.

Director Shelley Healy got the best out of her cast; throughout the piece there was excellent engagement with the audience, she extracted a sense of character from each of her performers and difference in pace which each suited the individual sections. It some ways these pieces are repetitive but Shelley still maintained a sense of variation throughout.  

The set was a simple black curtain which along with minimal props worked well, and the odd chair from time to time was easily manoeuvred on and off stage.

As an evening of female bonding it seemed a success but as an outsider to that club I am not sure this piece constitutes ‘theatre’. However - this evening was more about V-Day and raising awareness of female exploitation and abuse and also support for the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline, in that respect it was a definite success.   

Breakaway Theatre Company


Director: Shelly Healy

review date: 9th Feb 2018

The Maltings Arts Theatre, St.Albans


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