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Play Review: The Vagina Monologues

First off, let me apologise if your search term was ‘vagina’ and you ended up on this article. I am certain this is a downer for you. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Anyway, I watched The Vagina Monologues on Friday at the Canvas Laugh Club. The thing with going to Canvas Laugh Club is you expect anything to be staged or performed there to be funny. Much like the expectations you have from a man with big feet. Since I made a Rs.215 trek across town, I was 7 minutes late to this play and I missed a story. The Vagina Monologues has four monologists – people who talk to you directly without you being able to get in a word edgewise (husbands would know). The one I watched was in Hindi.

The experience

The version of the play I watched was performed by Mahabanoo Mody- Kotwal, Dolly Thakore, Dilnaz Irani and Priyanka Sethia. I was really excited because I had heard so much about this play. Penned by Eve Ensler and performed for the first time in 1996, I was as intrigued by the play’s name as I was by the song ‘ Choli ke peeche kya hai’ – because both hid so many secrets. One of the first things that struck me as odd was the fact that each of the four performers was carrying a set of papers that they would occasionally glance at in the midst of their performance. For a play that they have been performing for 13 years, this seemed out of place. In what could be a spoiler, let me tell you that this play is about vaginas- called yoni in Hindi. And you tend to forget where it is located, as women often do, worry not, the performers point at it often enough for your to remember.

Delving deep

The play talks about every aspect of the vagina, from the outside, its colour to its shape and everything in between. The play travels across boundaries and continents touching upon issues of rape, FGM, sex and sex workers and birth. You can also watch two of the performers have an orgasm on stage but I personally think they were faking it (See what I did there? ). Besides, the audience is engaged through a song where everyone sings along to ‘chut’ . Yes, and there is a drum and everything. There was a disgruntled man behind me who refused to say ‘chut’ despite his gf egging him on. His lips were sealed.

While the play starts off interestingly enough, it does veer into the territory of preachy and heavy in bits. The emotional bits sometimes felt especially contrived. Also, since it was staged at the Canvas Laugh Club, I expected it to be funnier but it wasn’t. The play is all about getting in touch with your inner self but sometimes it delves too deep. The last story where a mother in law watching her daughter in law in labour and appreciating the beauty of the vagina is super weird. Some of the situations have been changed to suit the Indian scenario as have the names. The play isn’t always performed with the same artists so you might want to look into that.

Priyanka Sethia and Dilnaz pull some major punches with their performances but the others seem to lack passion.

The Climax

Play: The Vagina Monologues

Cast: Mahabanoo Mody- Kotwal, Dolly Thakore, Dilnaz Irani and Priyanka Sethia

Language: Hindi

Show: The 6:30pm show at Canvas Laugh Club at Lower Parel

The wallet is lighter by : Rs.628 inclusive of Bookmyshow’s internet handling fees

Get in touch: 3rd Floor, Palladium Mall, Phoenix Mills, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Palladium Mall, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400013, 090046 03115

Destress quotient: 1.5 AAHs

Verdict: Fun in bits but gets a little heavy after a point. Maybe too detailed for some men.

Fun facts:

  1. Initially, Eve Ensler performed every monologue herself, with subsequent performances featuring three actresses, and more recent versions featuring a different actress for every role. (from Wikipedia)
  2. Eve Ensler wrote the first draft of the monologues in 1996 (there have been several revisions since) following interviews she conducted with 200 women about their views on sex, relationships, and violence against women. (from Wikipedia)
  3. When they were Indianizing the play, the producers approached famous Bollywood actresses. What a disaster. “None of them wanted to do the play,” recalls one. “Some of them had really crazy excuses. One of them actually said ‘I can’t say the word [vagina]. I just can’t say it. What will my parents think?'” (taken from http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/play/vagina-monologues-mumbai-606224)

Disclaimer: The image is taken from a Google search from here: http://in.bookmyshow.com/entertainment/wp-content/uploads/The%20Vagina%20Monologues%20cast(4).jpg. All rights belong to the owner. Also, this is not the cast I watched it with.

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