Tense Vagina: An Actual Diagnosis

★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Tense Vagina
Published 12 Aug 2017

If you haven’t been initiated into the intricate mysteries of the kegel muscles, you have two options. Either do a quick Google, or attend this barmy one-woman show, which despite its flaws is remarkably informative on the inner workings of your average urinary system.

Sara Juli is a New England-based performer who intersperses her public service broadcasts on bladder health (a sample: the ideal pee should last for at least eight seconds) with surreal dance and karaoke interludes. The show’s aesthetic is pure amped-up nursery, with scattered toys and a doll’s house. Juli is a hyperactive mother figure in the middle of it, casting the audience as the kids who ruined her kegels.

There’s snack time, Disney songs. And in a series of movement sequences, she evokes the mind-numbing tedium of parenting small kids, making bowls of porridge or saying "no" over and over again. It’s enough to give anyone a tense vagina.

But the performance’s disjointed structure doesn’t really make that connection clear. Juli picks up ideas and drops them just as fast, setting off a vagina-relaxing, kegel-tensing journey that litters the stage with toys of all varieties. It feels all like it’s designed for a toddler’s attention span, and sense of humour.

Her weirdly pat conclusion amounts to 'happy vagina, happy mother’, like she’s a Stepford Wife who just needed a little intimate rewiring to get back to her usual duties. I’m sure there’s satire here, but it’s more than a wee bit lost.