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The Vagina Monologues (Tour - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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“Let’s just talk about the word ‘vagina’.” And we’re off.

Vicky Entwistle as Janice Battersby in Corrie wasn’t backwards, and she’s not in this production either.

She is joined on stage by former Emmerdale actress Hayley Tamaddon and seven-month pregnant Clare Buckfield, of 2.4 Children and Dancing on Ice fame, to tell us the story about women’s bits. But it’s not that simple. New Yorker Eve Ensler has created a show which unashamedly celebrates the female form.

It explores a subject not often spoken aloud in polite society and, instead of the words hanging in the air, they boldy scream around the room. The three women tell us stories from a collection of monologues by women of all ages and nationalities with very different tales to explore.

Experiences, secrets, problems, fantasies and thoughts are regaled by the actresses who sit on stools. It is a show for women, about women, empowering women. No frills. Just words. Poignant words aimed to liberate the teller and the listener.

There is raucous laughter from the almost-entirely female audience as the trio tells the women’s stories, with an especially jaw-dropping and energetic performance from Entwistle talking about a certain C-word. Eve Ensler manages to shock, but with sisterly fanfare and a playful demonstration of the complexities of womanhood.

There is a serious side too. Childbirth, abuse, shame and even female circumcision are explored through the monologues, highlighting that this is simply an anthology of research revealing itself in theatre form. Ensler has set up the V-Day movement off the back of this show, which aims to end violence to women.

Her message is loud and clear and Entwistle, Buckfield and Tamaddon deliver it in a warm, funny and passionate manner. They are vibrant and vivacious and vivid – a credit to the world of the V.

The UK tour of Vagina Monologues runs until December 1, 2012.

- Claire Smith


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