by Laura Kressly
Bea wants to get drunk and get laid, as often as possible and with no strings attached, but she has a problem. Whenever anything tries to enter her vagina, it hurts. A lot. It’s like her vagina closes up and throws a tantrum about the probing finger, penis or sex toy, and it’s ruining Bea’s life. In Ella Langley’s tentative but hopeful new play on living with and overcoming Vaginismus, Bea’s vagina is suitably personified and Bea must get Vag to trust her again.
As Vag, Lottie Amor is bedecked in huge, flouncy layers of pink tulle and has a personality to match: exuberant, flamboyant and fun. She also gets mightily pissed off about intruders, even if Bea welcomes them. In scenes with Bea (Christelle Elwin) and monologues on her own, she points out how Bea has almost totally ignored her for most of her life. In turn, Bea is frustrated by Vag’s unwillingness to cooperate and it’s hacking at her sense of self-worth. Amor plays a few other characters, namely doctors and guys Bea is trying to pull and/or shag, which is a great vehicle for her versatility as a performer.
Their scenes are often funny, touching and playful, though sometimes short on tension and high stakes. They are occasionally interspersed with monologues that reveal the characters’ vulnerability, but these are overly-obvious and clumsy. Their content would be more effective if worked into the scenes as subtext or subtle dialogue, and the transitions need smoothing over. However, there are some dance and movement sequences that detail Bea’s relationship with Vag and her coming to terms with her body’s need for care which are more intimate and telling than the text. These are much more powerful than the speeches by a long shot.
It’s impossible to not compare this play to Isley Lynn’s Skin a Cat, and whilst Lynn’s is the dramaturgically stronger and more confident play, Langley’s has a rather different message that is just as valid. We need to listen to our bodies, be gentle with them, and give them a lot of attention in order to experience the pleasure they give. Applying these same principles to this play’s story in its future development will have just as positive an outcome.
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About My Vagina? runs through 25 August in Edinburgh.
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