Though perhaps most widely known as the current Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond films, Bond (Samantha Bond) is familiar to theatre audiences for playing the title role, opposite Dame Judi Dench, in David Hare's Amy's View at the National, in the West End and on Broadway. Her other recent stage credits include Dinner with Friends and The Memory of Water.
The new trio take over from actresses Sarah Alexander, Josette Bushell-Mingo and former Bond girl Honor Blackman. Bond and Oliver will remain with the production until it finishes at the New Ambassadors, while Éclair will play for this and next week only (though not on 24, 25 & 31 May, due to previous commitments). Éclair will then be replaced, up to 22 June, by Michelle Gomez, the actress from Channel 4's The Book Group, who previously appeared in the show with Loretta Swit and Ruthie Henshall. Further casts will be announced shortly.
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 opened at the New Ambassadors Theatre in May 2001 where it closed on 22 September before re-opening a month later at the Arts Theatre. It ran there until 23 February 2002, before transferring back to the New Ambassadors Theatre on 26 February.
During its West End run to date, the Olivier-nominated production has featured regularly refreshed three-strong companies, which have included stars such as Ruthie Henshall, Loretta Swit, Jerry Hall, Pam Ferris, Maureen Lipman, Edie Falco, Sophie Okenodo, Mariella Frostrup, Amy Irving, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dannii Minogue, Kika Markham, Meera Syal, Sophie Dahl, Miriam Margolyes, Suzanne Bertish, Elizabeth McGovern, Nina Wadia, Helen Lederer, Lauren Ward, Lisa Stansfield, Celia Noble, Donna Air, Jackie Clune and Anita Dobson.
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?".
The Arts' current production - Stephen Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, directed by Hollywood's Philip Seymour Hoffman - transferred from the Donmar Warehouse last month and finishes its strictly limited Arts' season on 22 June. At the New Ambassadors, the Monologues will be replaced by another Donmar American Imports transfer, Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero, which opens at its new home on 26 June.
- by Terri Paddock