‘Down there’ comes here

Early on in every journalism career,

aspiring reporters and editors learn what is

referred to as “the Breakfast Table Rule.”

That is the profession’s informal measure of taste and

propriety, a standard that says if a subject or word isn’t fit for discussion at the average family’s morning repast, you should think twice about including it in the family newspaper – at least not without toning it down with some synonym or euphemism.

So community newspaper editors across the country must be wincing a bit now that the popular production – ahem – “The Vagina Monologues” has strutted out of hip urban

theaters and sashayed its way onto the community stage. (“Oh, geez,” the slump-shouldered ombudsman thinks. “How many letters are we going to get when we write about this?”)

Now, we consider Review readers to be a cosmopolitan lot. But, we must confess, even we couched our terms a bit when this production first came to the BPA Playhouse in February of last year, coyly headlining our feature article “The ‘V’ Word.” (For those who missed it, the piece is still on our website; go to the archive search and type in the keyword...well, you know.) The production apparently touched the right spot with the locals, as its single presentation sold out.

As noted elsewhere in this publication, the production returns this week, with a cast of 20 Bainbridge women of all ages. So on the pretext of getting a few publicity photos – and, admittedly, rather curious – the editor donned dark glasses and snuck over to the Playhouse Monday evening for a sneak preview. And we can report that he escaped the torrent of estrogen with his masculinity more or less intact.

The script is, in a word, blunt, exploring in frank terms the female anatomy. More importantly, it considers the cultural implications of female-ness in this and still more-patriarchal societies, and the many ways we manage to denigrate or ignore a subject intrinsic to the lives of fully half the world’s population. It is ribald and sassy and poignant and funny. And if you’re cursed with a Y chromosome, it may make you rethink your sensibilities if not in fact your, shall we say, skills.

It also deals with such challenging issues as spousal abuse and rape. Indeed, the production coincides with national “V-Day,” raising awareness of violence against women. In a ceremonial proclamation, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy last week declared our island a “rape-free zone,” and proceeds from one of the performances will benefit the Kitsap YWCA/ALIVE women’s shelter, an excellent service embraced and supported by many in our community.

If you want to find out what all the fuss is about “down there,” alas, we’re told the Friday and Saturday showings are sold out. But Thursday offers a pay-as-you-can performance, for which the producers recommend that you queue up around 5:30 for tickets. And men, don’t be scared: the point of “The Vagina Monologues” is really to promote a vagina dialogue, and we have no doubt it will do so. Kudos to Kate Carruthers and her cast and crew for bringing such a lively and challenging piece to the local stage.

Now, for any readers of delicate sensibilities who have chanced across this commentary whilst eating their breakfast, our sincerest apologies. But the play’s called what it’s called.


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