The Vagina Dialogues is a political variety performance by young theatre company ‘The Volvas’. It is a show full of surprises that is enchanting one moment and gut wrenching the next. Exploring multiple and diverse experiences of womanhood, it takes audiences through a whirlwind of emotions.
An array of fresh talent shines through in this show. Each actor has distinctive flair, and their different styles work with rather than against each other to form a powerful group. Their monologues interact with one another, and during group scenes the dynamic is engaging and energetic. This is a play full of personality.
The show delivers immense emotional impact in scenes which communicate, with truth and sensitivity, the trauma and violence that misogyny breeds. There is well written and brilliantly delivered spoken word that conveys sexual violence, and physical theatre which shows recovery and healing.
Though the play is often urgent and full of emotion, there are also times when it is brimming with mischief and wry humour, poking fun at the inadequacies and hypocrisies of racism and sexism as well as standing up to the violence of the oppression they cause. But humour is also used to tell us that there is nothing shameful in the parts of womanhood that women are often told to hide. The Vagina Dialogues has a refreshing lack of shame. It reminds that nipples are natural, and that inside everyone is a woman clutching a bottle of lambrini and sobbing to a power ballad.
Carefully chosen music guides us through these varied emotions. Powerful lyrics sung in strong harmonies open the show, while charming live acoustic music provides narration to other scenes.
There is something incredibly touching about the ensemble’s apparent closeness. They begin holding hands in a circle and throughout each monologue or sketch, the performer is watched by the rest of the actors with faces of genuine pride. These details help to make the play what it is; a celebration of strength, resistance and love between women.
The Volvas are an incredibly promising company with the ability to deliver theatre that is at once playful and politically important. The Vagina Dialogues will make you laugh, make you think, and hold your hand through it all.
The Vagina Dialogues is playing at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Fringe until August 27.