Miriam Margolyes will be there when the curtains part

THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES might be the final say in the 70s and 805 gender wars, but are there more battles to be fought?

Words: Steve Cramer

t’s surely a good thing that discussions about the

female body have at last reached the mainstream. .\'o

small part of this is due to live linsler’s ()bie award- vyinning piece of' theatrical raconteurship. 'l'lit' l'ugi'iiii .lluiio/ugiit's. So acceptable has it become to talk about the organ ol the title. that women of‘ all ages and classes are now quite happy about shouting 'cunt‘ at a climactic moment of the show. lirom being taboo a generation ago. the subject has gone overground pubic has gone public so much so that the play warrants retitling as A Funny Thing lltl/)/)(’ll('(l oii I/lt’ lliiy Io I/l(' l'iH'Il/ll.

'l‘o compile her monologues. linsler interviewed women of' many ages and nationalities and transcribed their responses. The results are fascinating. Moving from young girls to middle—aged women. through to women made victims of rape in war. the piece is alternately very funny and harrowing by degrees. And it all comes back to the body and. in particular. the vagina.

This production. perhaps surprisingly. is the first full- scale professional version to take place in Scotland and.


‘People leave talking about things they neverthoughtthey would, which has to be a good thing.’

given the reception of Kate Nelson’s non-prol’essional collaboration with a large group of' women last year. it can expect to sell well. But Miriam Margolyes. respected as a performer on stage and screen. and loved either as Queen Victoria in lilac/(adders (‘lii'istmus‘ ('(tm/ or for kicking seven bells ottt of Arnold Schwarzenegger in [find til/him. is still wondering about its reception. ‘ln London. they’re rather delighted to see these subjects brought out in the open. but I'm not sure how Scottish audiences will feel.‘ she says. ‘l think people have a much sharper sense of‘ modesty in Scotland.‘

Perhaps the concern is unjustified: I seem to remember the apparently shocking keyword uttered by many a Scot of either gender in casual conversation. but perhaps I'm mistaken. This production takes no chances. though. for with Margoyles two f'amiliar Scottish laces will fill the other roles. Una McLean. who‘s as close to showbiz royalty as we have. and well warrants her Barclays stage award nomination for best actress from her performance in the Borderline I’t'ij/i't‘l Days. will be out there to sweeten the pill. as will (‘itizens‘ theatre favourite Michelle (iomez.

Margolyes. by now a veteran of the long West lind run ol the piece. stands by the product: ‘lt's not just a joke. it‘s a witty and profound piece. and very moving.’ she says. ‘l’eople come along in a quite resistant frame ol‘ mind. but it's not disgusting or shocking. I think men who come are brave. 'l‘hey‘re always outnumbered by women. and I quite like that. The point about the whole play. though. is that it enlarges consciousness. and people leave talking about things they never thought they would. which has to be a good thing.‘

And. of course. it is. I wonder though. if’ the piece shouldn't belong to an earlier era. for it can only seem. to men of' my generation. the subject of so much debate from the generation before its. Perhaps there are new gender boundaries to explore. The accounts ol’ the genital mutilation that occurs through f'emale


circumcision in some parts of

Africa in linsler’s piece are very disturbing. But Richard Herring‘s recent monologue lit/king ('m'k referred to the John Wayne Bobbit case. When we heard of a man having his penis cut oil and thrown onto a motorway. our conditioned reaction was laughter. and the woman concerned was only lightly penalised. 'l‘hat Bobbit was not. by all accounts. the best-behaved boy in town is unimportant. We would not. nor should we. use such reasoning to defend a man mutilating a woman. When is something sexist'.’ When we apply different standards to different genders. 'l‘hink on it.

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 30 Oct—Sat 2 Nov; Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Tue 5-Sat 9 Nov.

Stage Whispers

Re: Tread/n9 the boards

So crammed With new shows is the current theatre season. that Whispers has simply run out of space to cover it all. Aside from the preVIews over the next few pages. here some other treats to look out for:

Still running at the Theatre Royal Glasgow is lo Kill a Mockingbird. Clwyd ‘lheatr Cymru's adaptation of Harper Lee's novel of the liberal conscience. YOu might have read the book in your teens. or perhaps remember the late Henry Fonda's Atticus Finch. Whatever your reasons. this respected Welsh company bring this bittersweet morality table to you in accessible theatre form. the show runs until Saturday 19 October.

indeed. it's quite a month for Henry Fonda fans. Another film role which made his name With his adoring public was Twelve Angry Men. the Elia Kazan film of Reginald Rose's not so much courtroom as jury room drama. And how come we don't see liberal movies from Hollywood anymore? Back in its original theatre form. the play Will open the new Gateway season. where the future stars of Queen Margaret University College's drama academy are put through their paces by respected professionals. in this case Lynn Bains. It runs from Tuesday 22 until Saturday 26 October.

Richard O' Brien's Rocky Horror Show turns :30 this year. Whispers is reliably informed. those among you who are fond of donning the old Frank N l urtei‘ get tip. or like chanting ‘toucha toucha touch me'. are in for a treat. Again. Starring Robbie Williams' pal Jonathan Wilkes. as well as Scotland's own Rona Cameron. this one should pull the crowds. Arguably the same crowds as last time. but good luck to them. It runs until Saturday 19 Octobe' at the King's Theatre Glasgow. then skips on to the Festival Theatre. Edinburgh from Mondath until Saturday 26 October.

Jonathan Wilkes in The Rocky Horror Show