“The Vagina Odyssey” Refreshes Feminism, at Monkey House, Berkeley
Sarah Kennedy Rediscovers Private Parts
by Sweta Chawla
Sarah Kennedy has an alter-ego: she’s called Queen V; her funny, tenacious, and desperate “alter ego-gina.” V has been waiting for her moment to shine for decades, a veritable Miss Piggy under siege. Queen V delights us with the truth about Sarah’s inner journey toward feminine truth. The show is filled with juicy sensual adventures, and vivid self-discovery.
V awakens Sarah to a feminist revolution that leads to the stage. She opens with her five-year-old self-singing and dancing in front of Miss Piggy, Raggedy Ann, Ken, and Barbie dolls in a bright pink tutu, swinging her swirly red curls.
Kennedy’s opening brought me back to my own childhood. Memories of singing into hairbrushes, belting out my spirit without a care in the world. Like so many little girls, that time is short-lived.
“The Vagina Odyssey” offers an honest, humorous, and vulnerable one-woman show, bringing new voice to a woman who has been denied her authentic sensual experience.
In a packed room at the Monkey House, Sarah grows into her adolescent self. We feel her innocence being swept away along with her tutu and stuffed animals. Sarah stands alone in the dark, in black, on a dimmed stage, as she sits in the spotlight.
She wants to talk “about how she was feeling.” For several years, she suffers through confusion and loneliness. Then many years later, she crosses the Golden Gate Bridge and suddenly feels at home in a “sea of lesbians.” Up to that point, she has been ignoring her own truth, and simply conforming.
Sarah’s mind chatter illustrates the consequences of silence, neglect, and shame— the result of a conflicted passage into womanhood. She vividly relives the trials of puberty in a repressed Catholic family. Female relatives offer her a mystifying, restricted womanhood, asking , “Did you get the “curse,” yet?
Although her experiences differ from mine, I understand her loneliness, confusion, and neglect. Many women will find Sarah Kennedy’s sassy stories familiar. In the scenes where she “goes along just to fit in, I recognize my pain, too. Her story of self-betrayal reverberates in my heart, like a sad love song.
Kennedy offers up her virginity in exchange for fitting in, yet sex is painful for her. Eventually so painful that she rejects her boyfriend and falls into depression. She has suicidal thoughts and withers down to 87 pounds.
Her story takes many twists and turns, as she is misled to believe that what she seeks is in the vaginas of other women. She seeks the ecstasy of spiritual enlightenment when the answer comes from her own Pussy, purring for attention.
When she reignites her relationship with Queen V, we feel the vibrancy of a woman and the beginnings of a powerful female revolution . Kennedy moves us to reunite with our own alter “ego-gina’s.”
“Vagina Odyssey” absolutely deserves its standing ovation.
“Vagina Odyssey”: written and performed by Sarah Kennedy, directed by Alicia Dattner, Grass Valley Fringe Festival, Saturday, January 27, 2018. Info: nuggetfringe.com
Banner Photo by Mitchell Aidelbaum
Cast: Sarah Kennedy