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Corn Exchange - The Vagina Monologues

27th to 28th February 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Unmentionable entertainment

The Vagina Monologues, at The Corn Exchange, on Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28

A friend announced: "I'm not using coy phrases, I'm going to say straight out to the doctor: 'I've got trouble with my vagina.'" She returned, mortified: "You know what? I said 'I've got a problem down below.'"

Stupid isn't it? Why do we shy away from that word, when all it sounds like is a name for an elderly aunt?

So, there I was in a Corn Exchange bursting with women. Some girls brought their boyfriends along - on a learning curve, perhaps?

We were out to lose our inhibitions with Linda Robson, Ellen Thomas and Sophie Dix, who in turn read The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler and based on interviews with 200 women. Interviews including such bizarre questions as 'If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?' Something to think about while waiting for the potatoes to boil.

Word of the evening was, of course, vagina, high, wide and handsome, though most of the audience enthusiastically shouted 'penis' on hearing that the clitoris contains twice as many nerve fibres as that organ. (Look it is medical fact NWN guardians!)

Interspersed between fascinating information including alternative names for the vagina (including 'Where's Brian?'), was the serious message about 'brave, gorgeous women' worldwide who suffer from abuse such as genital mutilation and rape. The producers of The Vagina Monologues donate a percentage of the ticket sales to local women's charities.

Ellen Thomas and Sophie Dix - a young Joyce Grenfell - barely glanced at the pages and their words were full of life, fun and emotion.

Linda Robson's reading was not so fluent, though her down-to-earth asides were great and she could be forgiven anything for her simulation of a fantastic, over-the-rainbow, groaning, moaning, shrieking orgasm ending: "It's like that every night in our house - I wish!"

Last on the programme was Sophie Dix's I was there, relating the emotion of being present at a birth which ended with the vagina, always the star of that event, becoming 'a wide operatic mouth singing with all its strength'.

Extraordinarily, there was some laughter throughout this poignant, strong reading - possibly from those many ill-mannered people who turned up late for this hugely enjoyable, vibrant evening.