The Vagina Monologues

Every house needs both a bedroom and a basement, notes a character in Eve Ensler’s set of solo pieces, based on interviews the New York playwright conducted with hundreds of women. Ensler’s candid, sometimes outrageous, sometimes poignant sketches roam the territory bounded by these metaphorical psychosexual extremes, offering provocative observations on women’s experiences. Ensler’s touchstones are messy, painful, ecstatic, and primal–blood, sweat, tears, and come–as she ranges from the witch trials of the 1590s (when the investigating attorney, apparently just discovering the clitoris, proclaims a suspected satanist’s sex organ a devil’s teat) to such present-day characters as a Pittsburgh massage therapist rhapsodically reclaiming the word “cunt” and an elderly lady from Queens gingerly talking about her “down there.” (When Ensler asks, “What would it wear?” the woman responds, “It would wear a big sign: Closed Due to Flooding.”) The Vagina Monologues is a collection of showpieces for gifted actresses, and this one-night reading features some of the best performers in town, including Annabel Armour, Mary Ann Thebus, Jenny Magnus, Linda Kimbrough, Sarah Underwood, and Alexandra Billings. Directed by Susan V. Booth, the show is a start-up fund-raiser for TeenReach, a program created by Center Theater and Friends of Battered Women and Their Children to present interactive workshops on date rape, domestic abuse, and other issues of violence. Goodman Theatre Studio, 200 S. Columbus, 773-508-5422. Sunday, February 14, 8 PM. $35. –Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Mary Ann Thebus/ Annabel Armour uncredited photos.