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Laura-Doe’s Vaudeville of the Vulva – Bread and Roses, London

Writer: Laura-Doe, Anando Bharti and Robert Grayson

Director:  Penelope Chater

Reviewer:  Richard Maguire

There are quite a few vulvas – or should that be vulvae as Laura-Doe insists? – in London at the moment. Last month we had the lyrical Rejoicing At Her Wondrous Vulva The Young Woman Applauded Herself at the Ovalhouse Theatre, and opening later this month at The King’s Head is the madcap musical Vulvarine. Unfortunately, Vaudeville of the Vulva is not as poetic as the former or as funny as the latter.

Taking the form of an academic lecture Vaudeville of the Vulva is performed by Laura-Doe, who is, as the programme notes, a ‘somatic sexologist.’ Through various characters Laura-Doe seeks to enlighten her audience about the mysteries of the vulva. In many ways, the show is similar to Rejoicing At Her Wondrous Vagina where Bella Heesom sought to break taboos concerning female masturbation and the enjoyment of sex. However, while Heesom’s play is up-to-date, Vaudeville of the Vulva seems terribly old-fashioned.

It is also very confusing, and with its reliance on categorising vulvae as North vaginas, or South vaginas or even wolf vaginas, it’s difficult to ascertain whether these classifications are meant to be funny or educational. By the end of this 75-minute show, the vagina is shrouded in more mystery than ever before. One of Laura Doe’s characters is a cleaner who tells us the story of the Greek goddess Baubo, often depicted exhibiting her genitals. Another character is a nun who preaches on the moral purity of masturbation. Still, these portrayals are more entertaining than the vulva puppets that appear from the Punch and Judy tent on stage.

Those who baulk at audience participation should sit right at the back, as each sketch finishes with a singalong. You’re cajoled into singing the words ‘My Vagina’ to the tune of Tom Jones’s Delilah, and later you’re on your feet testing your pelvic floor while shaking your ‘kundalini’. This show may work at in a crowded fringe festival at the end of night after a few too many tipples, but it struggles in Clapham at 7.15.

Laura-Doe is a confident performer, but the material needs urgently updating if Vaudeville of the Vulva is to have any relevance for today. Instead of shaking your kundalini you’ll be shaking your feet towards the door.

Runs until 8 June 2019 | Image: Provided

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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