Six months after the Royal Court brought two quite brilliant new plays to the Bussey Building in Peckham, V-Day London put on an equally exemplary performance of the Vagina Monologues and an accompanying play written in 2009 by the same playwright.
Yes, I know, visiting four plays in six months hardly makes me the connoisseur of a thriving theatre scene, but I hear the Royal Court are bringing their Theatre Local project back at the end of May with two brand new plays and more workshops which I won’t want to miss.
The Vagina Monologues performance was all the more impressive given that it was performed by a mix of trained actors, amateurs and doubtless all shades in between. I went to the wrap party on Saturday with my friend Bob – a source of fun for some of the actors given a certain monologue concerning a man called Bob – to talk to some of the actors. I spoke to one who lived locally and had never really acted before, chatting with another trained at Brian Timoney (at least I think that’s what she said!)
Since watching the play on Friday evening I feel as though my preconceptions have been unfolding in reverse; I arrived as a blank slate but left feeling surprised, as though I expected something more monotonous or strident. Today it struck me that the monologues were part of a common project with Theatre Local’s two plays, revealing the intimate thoughts of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
The fun thing about the Vagina Monologues is that the people and their lives sounded deeply ordinary, but by becoming emboldened to talk frankly about their vaginas they became quite extraordinary. In Truth and Reconciliation, people who had been through extraordinary terror and pain spoke in a context that suddenly made them seem quite ordinary.
It’s a refreshing contrast with the more neatly structured narratives of plays that are out to tell you something in the voice of the playwright. I’ve high hopes for the next two plays.