ST: Joy and tears of being women (Oct 4)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Oct 4, 2008
Joy and tears of being women
From first menstrual cramps to love and sex, this feminist play is
fun-filled and thoughtful
By tara tan

Zebra Crossing
Drama Centre Theatre @ National Library
Last Thursday

This is Dim Sum Dollies-meets-Oprah - stories about love, family and
sex doused with tears and showered with laughter.

Eve Ensler's landmark play, The Vagina Monologues, played here by nine
women, is a series of vignettes that grapple with female issues from
domestic abuse to the first menstrual cramp.

Directed by Loretta Chen, this play had no qualms about its anti-men
slant: Father figures or male lovers are largely absent in this play.

Powerful feminist statements were made, such as chanting a certain
derogatory word (that rhymes with 'aunt') to reclaim it as a word of

Although the pacing in the first half was jerky, it hit a home run
with Loke Loo Pin's monologue, Because He Liked To See It. Playing an
elderly woman coming to terms with her vagina, a word she can't even
bring herself to say, Loke's deadpan humour - delivered with
impeccable comic timing - was a lethal combination.

Another very funny scene was between a lesbian sex worker (played by
Sabrina Chong) and a geeky girl on the cusp of sexual discovery
(Eleine Ng) with their inventory of orgasmic soundtracks.

In another scene, transsexual Elnina's brutally honest telling of the
trials and tribulations she endures was heartbreaking. The inclusion
of this monologue, taken from another of Ensler's plays, added a
significant dimension to this work.

Elizabeth Tan's young girl who goes through childhood sexual abuse but
finds salvation with an older woman in The Coochie Snorcher That Could
gave me mixed feelings, however.

Presented as a Dear Diary monologue, the text was hard-hitting but Tan
seemed joyfully detached from her past. Having said that, the actress
later put in an emotional turn in the role of an abused wife.

However, the series of short monologues sometimes felt too abrupt,
with its transitions shaky and irreverent. The music was also often
overly sentimental.

It did not seem as hard-hitting as previous versions staged in
Singapore. For instance, the scene dealing with genital mutilation was
played out with a video on butchery and accompanied with statistics.
In Li Xie's The Vaginalogue in 2003, which was based on the same play,
Li carved and sewed up a hunk of raw meat on stage, a visceral image
that is seared in my memory still.

Kudos to Chen for letting her nine performers' individual
personalities shine through. Most women would be able to identify
facets of themselves in them.

Also, intriguing directorial decisions gave this piece an added edge,
like how wealthy socialities laughingly exchanged stories of spousal
abuse at a lush party.

The Vagina Monologues is an enjoyable, fun and thoughtful production,
a should-see for women and their men.

watch it


R18 (Adult Content & Strong Language)

Who: Zebra Crossing
When: Till Oct 12, 8pm (no shows on Monday), Sat & Sun matinees at 3pm
Tickets: $17 to $57 from Sistic (log on to or call