The Vagina Monologues in Singapore

Went to watch Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues the other day at the National Library’s Drama Centre. Apparently it’s the inaugural production of the local theatre company Zebra Crossing. There was a Cantonese production of the same play a few weeks before, but for obvious reasons I didn’t catch it. Maybe it’s not obvious enough – I don’t speak Cantonese. The Vagina Monologue is an award winning play that consists of a few short monologues told by women on different aspects of the vagina or femininity including its physical appearance, love, sex, rape, etc.

I haven’t watched the original, so this is just my observations. This time the version departs from the original monologue, involving between 1 to 9 women for each ‘chapter’ of the play. Among them a woman who couldn’t say the word ‘Vagina’, a know-thy-vagina camp (led by a cartoonish French accented sergeant), a transsexual looking for acceptance, and a bunch of drunken housewives telling stories of abuse by their husbands.

I applaud their effort to localise many of the contents by including references to local heritage such as the inclusion of an Indian woman, Malay, Chinese, and Eurasian. Although I think some parts still seemed a little too American.  In emphasizing the local flavor they threw in some local phrases (Hokkien, Malay, Singlish, Tamil) that made it sound a little school-theatrelike to me. But they drew laughter from the audience nonetheless. It seems that local curses or exclamations is one of the best recipe to entertain Singaporean film-watchers and theatre-goers. There was even pole-dancer that showed off a bit of her skills. But left me with “What was that for?”. But some of the scenes are genuinely touching and funny and do work most of the time. Could do a little better on the costume for the ‘dominatrix’, tho. She looks more like a Panic at The Disco fan than a dominatrix.

I did cringe badly once during the show. There was a chapter where the actresses in school uniforms were acting as teenage girls who talked about their first period while running around the first few rows of audience and showering them with tampons and sanitary pads. Then one of them took a huge bottle of Vagisil (the production’s sponsor) and shrieked “I WANTED TO USE VAGISIL!” followed by some corporate advertising catchphrase, echoed by the other girls. Ugh.

Anyway, it was much entertaining and seventeen bucks well spent. (This cheapskate bought the cheapest available)


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