|The Vagina Monologues|
by Willard Manus
Now in its second year at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES continues to draw capacity houses in its open-ended run. By changing its bill of actresses every six weeks, the show keeps up its freshness and energy--but also runs the risk of ill-matched, uneven performances. A case in point was the Gina Phillips-Marcia Wallace-Hattie Winston triumverate which handled the acting (make that reading) chores recently. While the young and beautiful Phillips delivered her monologues with the kind of self-conscious intensity usually found only in acting classes; Winston trotted out a variety of odd, weird-sounding voices and dialects that came off as distracting and annoying. Only Wallace seemed not to be trying too hard to give a "performance." If the audience noticed these shortcomings, it didn't let it get in the way of their enjoyment of the show, though.
The frank, ribald, sometimes hilarious or touching first- person statements on female genitalia and sexuality collected and refined by playwright Eve Ensler were received with roars of approval and laughter by the largely-female crowd, which ran the gamut from teenagers to grandmothers. Obviously, the show is a breakthrough event for many women, one that revolutionizes the way they are supposed to think and talk about not just their own sex but such related social issues as circumcision, rape and molestation.
All that and more is aired out in this 1-hr 40-minute play which is a hit locally, nationally and internationally and has spearheaded the formation of the activist organization V-Day. The organization, which works to end violence against women, will mount a celebrity performance of The Vagina Monologues on V-Day 2001, at Madison Square Garden. For further information visit http://www.vday.org/.
(Performances Tues-Sun at the Canon Theatre, 205 N. Canon Ave, Beverly Hills, CA. Call (310) 859-2830 or Ticketmaster, (213) 365-3500).