Today: 'V' for Victory (Oct 5)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

`V' for victory
A lively, comedic takeon a quiet classic:
Mayo Martin

YOU'VE seen one, you've seen them all, the saying goes. Not so with
this version ofThe Vagina Monologues (TVM).

Despite this reviewer's initial doubts on the wisdom of choosing an
arguably over-exposed piece as an inaugural production for new
theatre company Zebra Crossing, director Loretta Chen has admirably
eschewed conventions for a unique take on TVM (which is not an easy
thing considering how notoriously hands-on the playwright Eve Ensler

Instead of three performers, there are nine. Sombre and minimalist?
No, thank you, we're having fun.

Hence, monologues are shuffled around, public service announcements
flashed onscreen along with video interviews of three prominent
theatre personalities on motherhood, a clinical "vagina workshop" is
re-imagined as an army bootcamp led by a hyperactive drill sergeant
with a French accent, shrill "schoolgirls" descend on the audience
waving their (unused) sanitary napkins, and, seemingly out of
nowhere, someone actually does a sexy pole dance. Naughty,
naughty ...

Barring uneven scene transitions, (opening night jitters, most
likely) TVM was without a doubt a lively theatrical ride. There was
a conscious effort to localise the experience, with phrases in
Tamil, Malay and Chinese dialects thrown around.

That said, the flashy approach tends to occasionally distract,
diffusing some of the more intimate, disturbing moments of what is
by nature a confessional piece of text.

Despite a few over-the-top moments, new talent Eleine Ng showed a
flair for the comedic with her scene depicting the various ways of

Soul singer Asha Edmund's own spiels on, er, hair "down there" and
how to pronounced "c**t" were tight and snappy. Transsexual Elnina
recounting a transformative experience was a bit too dramatic but
intense, nevertheless.

My favourite was veteran actress Loke Loo Pin deadpanning her way
through a monologue as a dignified old lady recounting her first
sexual awakening. Too shy to even say the word "vagina", she flashes
a "V" sign instead — which could very well stand for the
word "victory", too.

While Chen's approach was a little too much for a play whose power
lies in the intimacy that monologues offer, we're inclined to give
it a "V" sign for being fun and, more important, fresh.

The Vagina Monologues runs until Oct 12,8pm, at Drama Centre
Theatre,National Library. With 3pm matinees.Tickets from $17 to $57
at Sistic. Rating: R18.