“That’s a vagina” my friend whispers delightedly as we take our seats. “It’s a vagina!”
And it is.
The Ustinov stage at Nottingham Playhouse is bare save for the far left corner where a large construction of the female reproductive organ fashioned entirely out of fabric proudly stands. Complete with glittery clitoris. It is undoubtedly and unequivocally, a sight to behold.
I will hold my hands up and admit that going into this sold-out performance of ‘Vulva la Revolution,’ I had no idea what to expect. As the lights dimmed around us to signal the start of the show, I still had no idea what to expect from Major Labia – the comedy collective of women who wrote, produced and star in the show.
I had many thoughts as I waited for the performance to begin. Would it be crude? Would it be overly political and divisive? Would it be funny?
Whatever my expectations might have been, I certainly didn’t bank on Nottingham legend Maid Marion emerging from the aforementioned prop head-first. Nor did I anticipate the way she launched straight into a diatribe about the casual sexism of the Merry Men in a fine piece of slam poetry.
It was, for lack of a better word, hilarious.
Vulva la revolution puts the spotlight on Notts ladies throughout the ages, highlighting society’s treatment of women in an amusing yet genuinely thought provoking way. This journey through time spans from the medieval period right through to present day, all the while drawing attention to the everyday sexism and harassment that women still face even now.
Vulva la Revolution is part of the Playground Festival, a series of ‘one night only’ shows that puts the spotlight on local talent. Local is unquestionably the key word of the evening. Characters such as ice dancer Jayne Torvill and the straight-talking mushy pea merchants of the iconic Goose Fair will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has spent a prolonged period in Nottingham.
Perhaps the most inspirational part of the show is Major Labia’s portrayal of Olympic Gold medallist, Rebecca Adlington. Poor Rebecca is thwarted at every turn. First she’s discouraged by teachers for her aspirations, then she’s gleefully informed by the lacklustre staff at Mansfield Leisure Centre that she can’t swim there (the Tories stole their water). In the end Rebecca overcomes adversity, defies the naysayers, and achieves her dream of Olympic stardom at Beijing in spectacular style.
If for some reason none of the above satisfies your comedy thirst, please know that Mary Berry also makes a cameo to deliver a verbal middle finger to the Chanel 4, taking Paul Hollywood down in the process.
In a society where women are still expected to adhere to outdated behaviours and standards, Vulva la Revolution offers a refreshing take on the ridiculousness of the patriarchy. Based on the audience reaction – no polite smattering of giggles, just full-on belly laughs, Major Labia are onto a winning formula.
(Expletive redacted) the patriarchy, indeed!
Review By Laura Somers
You can catch Major Labia on 20th-21st October at Leicester’s Inside Out Festival. www.curveonline.com