McPherson Monologues Succeed Vagina MonologuesDate: 3 December 2001
Irish playwright Conor McPherson (pictured) assumes the director's chair in the West End for a second time when he brings Eugene O'Brien's Eden to the Arts Theatre in February. Eden, performed as intertwining monologues by a cast of two, will replace Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, presented by a changing trio of female celebrities. The Vagina Monologues closes on 23 February 2002 and Eden opens for a ten-week season from 25 February.
McPherson is best known for his hit Irish ghost story play, The Weir, which ran several times in London at the Royal Court and Duke of York's, on its way to winning two Olivier Awards (Best New Play and Best Supporting Actor) and transferring to Broadway. His other plays include This Lime Tree Bower, St Nicholas and Dublin Carol. McPherson's first major directorial project came with his own Port Authority, a series of three overlapping monologues which ran earlier this year at the West End's New Ambassadors Theatre. Port Authority has just been nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Play. This autumn, McPherson also directed three short plays - The Yalta Game, White Horses and Come On Over - alongside Neil Jordan at Dublin's Gate Theatre.
Eden chronicles a troubled weekend in the lives of Breda and Billy who hold conflicting ideas of heaven on earth. Breda desperately wants her husband to come home and tell her how much he loves her. But Billy has just one thought on his mind - lust, and it doesn't involve his wife! Eden, which stars Catherine Walsh and Don Wycherley, premiered last year at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, where it is currently receiving a second run over Christmas.
The current West End production of The Vagina Monologues first opened at the New Ambassadors in May 2001 where it closed on 22 September before re-opening a month later at the Arts. A spokeswoman told Whatsonstage.com that producers hope to give the show another lease of life by transferring it to a third venue.
Originally seen Off-Off Broadway in 1996, the award-winning Vagina Monologues was first seen in London in 1999 when it ran for a six-week season at the fringe King's Head Theatre. The current West End production has featured regularly refreshed three-strong companies, which have included Jerry Hall, Pam Ferris, Jenny Éclair, Maureen Lipman, Edie Falco, Sophie Okenodo, Mariella Frostrup, Amy Irving, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dannii Minogue, Kika Markham, Meera Syal, Sophie Dahl, Miriam Margolyes and Suzanne Bertish. Elizabeth McGovern, Nina Wadia and Lauren Ward currently star with Loretta Swit, "Hotlips" from Mash, arriving on 17 December for a Christmas season.
The Vagina Monologues, subtitled "An Anthropological Exploration", reveals a series of different women's stories and experiences involving their genitalia. The material was gathered from hundreds of intimate interviews, conducted by Ensler, in which women were asked probing questions such as "If it (your vagina) could talk, what would it say?".
- by Terri Paddock