‘Rejoicing At Her Wondrous Vulva The Young Woman Applauded Herself’ is probably the best title for a show that I’ve ever seen. It was certainly the title that had me clamouring for tickets, writes Michael Holland.
Bella Heesom, who wrote this, alternately plays the Brain and the Ego and shares the stage with Sara Alexander as the Clitoris and Sexual Appetite, in this female journey from young inquisitive girl to the awakening of womanhood. Between the two of them there is a lesson in anatomy – which I feel was mainly for the men in the audience – and an exploration of the natural feelings suppressed by a patriarchal society.
The action is played out on a set dripping with hanging plants, a sea of earth, a projected backdrop of roots and flowers – which is all metaphorical – and ever-changing text that highlighted the dichotomy between what is okay for men and not for women: sex before marriage, masturbation, armpit and pubic hair, etc., with the Brain suppressing her own desires as her Sexuality and Clitoris cries out for attention.
Thankfully, by the end, the Brain/Ego has seen the light and promises not to adhere to society’s mores or to glossy magazines’ Top Ten Things To Do To Keep Men Happy lists. By the end they had both shed – literally – all their ‘patriarchic values’, and looked much happier for it.
‘Rejoicing’ is performed as a Playschool style lesson, with the didacticism dressed up with costumes and games and lots of comedy, provided mainly by the Clitoris. ‘Rejoicing’ is a bold piece of writing, a brave piece of work, and an excellent evening’s entertainment.
There is an optional Q&A that is just as much fun as the performance.
Ovalhouse, 52 – 54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW until 25 May. Times: Tuesday-Saturday, 7.30pm. Admission: £16, £10. Phone: 020 7582 7680