On New Year’s Eve of 1991, on the brink of our first Persian Gulf adventure, a naked Karen Finley stood onstage in a New York club to deliver a harrowing rant against George H. W. Bush and his service to patriarchy, all while running a hundred yards of yellow ribbon between her legs. This was, to put it mildly, a challenging and riveting spectacle: Finley’s vulnerability and her ferocious power both arose from her primordial trust in her body, and her willingness to risk that body for her convictions. Now, famously, Eve Ensler has made the confessional, politically charged performance pioneered by Finley and others safe for the Oxygen Network. Metropolis Performing Arts Centre’s new production of Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” manages to be both spare and lavish; the set design, like the play itself, is somewhere between school assembly and awards show. The performers deliver Ensler’s monologues and “vagina facts” with wit and energy, though also with a few too many contrived accents for my taste. Lucinda Johnston deserves special recognition for her heroic encyclopedia of orgasmic moans. But in the end, to take the show seriously you have to hear “I am my vagina” as a statement of liberation, to view the lover who tells one woman that her inner beauty is located in her cunt as a hero, not a creep. Maybe I’m just a dick, but I have trouble seeing the trajectory from tax lawyer to lesbian dominatrix as a map to the promised land. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.