Vagina Monologues at Theatre Widener

Awright, so it’s a little departure from reviewing galleries and museums, but one of the great benefits of living in any area with universities and colleges is the terrific and affordable opportunities to enjoy the theatre and the visual arts at most of them.

Theatre Widener at Chester, Pennsylvania’s Widener University is currently producing The Vagina Monologues the well-traveled Obie Award winning play by Eve Ensler that has been raising eyebrows and making people laugh and cry for over a decade.

The Vagina Monologues has been described as a “hilarious and poignant tour of the last frontier, the ‘Ultimate Forbidden Zone.’” At is core, to many people it is often just a very diverse and entertaining celebration of female sexuality. Eve Ensler now classic play delivers real women’s stories of the most intimate nature, sometimes funny, often revealing a surprising vulnerability, and nearly always some sort of sexual self discovery.

The Widener production is directed by Bohdan Senkow, the Director of Theatre Widener, and this production features an outstanding cast that includes Heather Astorga and Lauren Greenberg, two undergraduate seniors, Lisa Eckley-Cocchiarale, a staff member who directs the Widener Fresh Baked Theatre Company, and Roni Cibischino, Shanna Tedeschi, and Jennifer Woo, three graduate students from Widener University’s Human Sexuality program.

All six performed superbly at opening night, and Senkow made some great choices in the assignment of individual monologues to specific actors, and the chemistry between them was palpable and added a very positive effect to the overall production. This is not your typical play, there’s no plot or music and a very austere set, so success is based on the players’ ability to grab your attention with their stories and interaction with each other.

Cibischino and Greenberg were terrific and nearly flawless in their delivery and interpretations of their specific monologues and Lisa Eckley Cocchiarale had the audience cracking up from the beginning. Jen Woo easily had the hardest and most difficult monologues, especially the one dealing with the “C word,” which she delivered in a funny and valiant performance.

Shanna Tedeschi was also surperb and often very funny, especially when she donned a hat and scarf and related an old lady’s experiences with her “down there.”

Also superb was Heather Astorga, who delivered two of the most moving monologues of the evening, one dealing with wartime rape and another with a young woman’s discovery of her sexuality. For some constructive criticism, the very pretty Ms. Astorga should refrain from biting her cheeks during her colleages’ monologues. I suspect that she’s not aware that she’s doing it (neither is this writer when he does it), but it is very distracting once you see her doing it in the background of someone else’s monologue.

Profits from this very well done production will be contributed to support organizations that combat abuse against women.

The Vagina Monologues opened on Thursday, February 12 and will be presented on Friday and Saturday, February 13, 14 at 7:30pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 19, 20, 21 at 7:30 and Sunday February 22 at 2:00pm. Widener Students and Staff are invited free of charge, Staff Guests are just $8. Adults are $15 and Non-Widener Students are just $8. To make reservations please call Theatre Widener at 610-499-4364.

Theatre Widener is at 15th and Potter Streets at Widener University in Chester, PA.

Image Courtesy of Widener University.

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