The Vagina Monologues
Theatre Royal, Newcastle, and touring
To borrow the title from the Kool and the Gang song, it was most definitely ladies night tonight. And the feeling was right.
Men were scarce in the sell-out crowd for the first night of the Newcastle Monologues, and with very good reason. For this was women, telling womens stories, their joyous, sad, sorrowful, funny and mysterious lives laid completely bare in this award-winning play. From the moment diva Sharon Osbourne and actresses Jenny Jules and Lisa Riley strode out on to stage in their slinky black dresses we were captivated.
The simple set, consisting of just three bar stools, a couple of café tables and back-lit with twinkly fairy lights, was intimate and invited us to enter another world.
The ladies chat a while and connect with the audience with a few laughs before launching into the monologues themselves. Its part story-telling, part female-bonding as the ladies slip into the monologues and become the speakers themselves, changing their accents and body language accordingly.
We hear stories ranging from the Bosnian refugee, the sex worker and the 72-year-old lady to an emotional tale of childbirth.
Its funny in parts, poignant, moving, and uncomfortable at times. But then, thats life.
All eyes are on 51-year-old Sharon at first, wife of the legendary Ozzy Osbourne. She camps it up, and although she fluffed her lines a few times, nevertheless managed to ad lib and carry it off with a degree of aplomb. Although a little nervous, this being her first night, her big personality, sense of humour, and gutsy showmanship shine through. Sharon gets lots of laughs and the audience clearly engage with her, so shes able to carry off the funnier and more light-hearted monologues. Her interpretation of the sex worker piece was very funny, and showing no inhibitions whatsoever, Sharon ended up rolling around the floor and dousing herself with a bottle of water.
Trust me, seeing is believing.
Actress Jenny Jules is utterly captivating, and is able to slip in and out of a range of accents with ease. Lisa Riley, too, has the gravitas to handle some of the grittier monologues. The three of them are engaging and believable.
The Monologues is not the easiest performance to sit through but is ultimately an empowering experience.
Reviewer: Katharine Capocci