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Mix penis and vagina... then everyone is happy'

PUBLISHED: 16:47 16 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:24 16 August 2010

FIRST performed as a fringe show in 1996, The Vagina Monologues was back at Bromley s Churchill Theatre as part of a new UK tour, writes Mark Campbell.

FIRST performed as a fringe show in 1996, The Vagina Monologues was back at Bromley's Churchill Theatre as part of a new UK tour, writes Mark Campbell.

Based on real survey results, it's a fascinating show: a mixture of New Age psychobabble, earthy comedy routines and bleakly disturbing stories of rape and mutilation.

Fronted by Sharon D Clarke (Holby City), Linda Robson (Birds of a Feather) (pictured) and Nikki Sanderson (Coronation Street), youth, age and experience are equally represented.

What struck me first, apart from the fact I was one of the only blokes in the audience, was that all three performers had scripts in their hands! Is it too much too expect professional actresses to learn lines these days? But it didn't prove a problem; soon we were having the word 'vagina' rammed down our throats as if it had never gone out of fashion. And ugly though the word is (something the show takes great pains to emphasise), constant use did at least make it seem less unfriendly.

I can't say I learnt anything new, but it was thought-provoking to hear all those facts about the female reproductive organs disseminated with such obvious gusto.

The fact that the clitoris contains twice as many nerve-endings as the penis, for instance, was seized upon with glee. On the downside, the preachy feminism reduced some monologues to strident adolescent rants, while the emphasis on erotic lesbianism did rather pander to the stereotyped view that "all feminists are dykes".

Nevertheless, it would be sheer ignorance to dismiss the awful stories of female genital mutilation as 'history' (it's still practised in the UK), while writer Eve Ensler's childish attempt to reclaim the C-word at least has its heart in the right place.

Here's an idea. Put it on as a double-bill with The Puppetry of the Penis and then everybody would be happy.

Mark Campbell

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