‘GirlPlay’ is a reminder of the beautiful and heart-wrenching honesties of having a vagina: Review

Photo Credit: Rampant Collective

GirlPlay, a reimagined voiceover project about what it really means to have vagina, is part of [email protected]’s Season 2 line-up, and comes from Sarah Richardson and the innovative and angry Rampant Collective. The play focuses on Lucy, a girl on the edge of womanhood, and her life as an awkward, inexperienced ‘inbetweener’. Her unique monologue takes the audience on her journey of coming to terms with sex, her anatomy, and matters of the heart. 

When the play starts, Lucy is eighteen and she is trying to work out whether she should see her vulva as ‘something bad’. She’s a later bloomer, with more interest in being a kid than having a sexual awakening, and that becomes very clear through vivid and often uncomfortable descriptions from the three voices used to represent her (Martha Dunlea, Rachel O’Connell and Sarah Richardson). Together, their voices are clear, with a hint of a friendly Irish accent, flowing perfectly together to create a cohesive and coherent character. 

Ciara Elizabeth Smyth has directed GirlPlay without any physical acting, all of the cast’s performances are exclusively vocal, and yet still manage to be both visual and imaginative. The woven chorus and individual, almost lyrical, spoken-word-like, voice acting provides the audience with very clear, cut-throat honesty at every beat: “I thought I had peed myself”. In GirlPlay, honest and gross is paired together to destroy the taboo of female masturbation, and with this, relatability becomes one of the most enticing characteristics of the play. It’s easy to feel like she is ‘our’ Lucy; a girl in the office whose life you are invested in because she is both helpless and hopeless, but still the most exciting person you’ve ever met. If you caught Toothbrush at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe, GirlPlay has really similar characters, and the same kind of brash, brutal femininity in its protagonists.

Sarah Richardson writes with a similar kind of clarity as Phoebe Waller-Bridge or Michaela Coel. She knows exactly what she wants to say, and how she wants you to feel, and it is totally irrelevant whether you agree with her or not. However, as we watch Lucy fall for the boy in the club, and stumble into ‘real life’ with him, I grew a little frustrated. Lucy became a cog in the office: rent, sleep, eat, repeat. As a kind of ‘everywoman’, I wanted to see more of her real life, rather than a simple sex and love-life description. This is a play about sex and love, yes, but it does often make the character of Lucy feel quite two dimensional, which is perhaps not the aim of Richardson’s writing.

GirlPlay, fifty-five minutes long, is essential for anyone identifying as a woman; anyone who has looked down and wondered how their vagina works, anyone who was scared when they saw the first drop of blood on the fitted sheet, anyone who loves sex, hates sex, wants love, or wants to stay as far away from it as possible. Well done, Rampant Collective. You have created a play for the everywoman. 

Words by Imogen Brighty-Potts.

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