READ The New York Times Review of Los Monologos de Vagina, "Taking a Stand, on Stools"
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The New York Times
By LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES
“The Vagina Monologues,” Eve Ensler’s classic paean to women and their genitalia, is always a bit of a feminist rally: part humor, part outrage. That spirit of celebration and defiance runs through “Los Monólogos de la Vagina,” the Spanish-language version of the show at the Westside Theater, where the ebullient Daphne Rubin-Vega is bringing an extraordinary warmth and vivacity to the proceedings.
Staged by Jaime Matarredona, director of the Mexico City production that has been running since 2000, “Los Monólogos” has a look that’s familiar from other iterations of the show. Barefoot and dressed in black, the cast of three sits on tall chairs, performing with scripts in hand. But for Ms. Rubin-Vega, the chair seems almost a red herring: She sits, yes, but she is hardly at rest.
The actress Miriam Colón with Jaime Matarredona, the director of “Los Monologos de La Vagina.” The play is a Spanish-language version of the hit by Eve Ensler.‘Los Monólogos de la Vagina,’ a Spin on Eve Ensler’s PlayMAY 2, 2014
Her smoky voice is a tonal wonder, conveying meaning that doesn’t need translation. She uses her physique the same way. Delivering a monologue about pubic hair, Ms. Rubin-Vega is full-body energy in motion, the chair hardly able to contain her tiny frame. As a woman searching for her clitoris in a vagina workshop, she shifts from shyness to passion to wonder to worry, her free arm flying, not even her toes still. It’s comic and sexy, joyous and sweet.
“Los Monólogos” uses revolving casts, and Ms. Rubin-Vega headlines the current one, scheduled to run through June 22. Her co-stars are María Cellario, who has a funny, fierce triumph with a monologue called “Mi Vagina Furiosa,” and Flor De Liz Perez, who performs a series of culturally specific sexual moans — Cuban, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Dominican — that were a huge hit with the audience this week.
The Westside Theater is where Ms. Ensler performed “The Vagina Monologues” in 1999, when the show was new to Off Broadway. Some details — those moans, for example — have been tweaked in “Los Monólogos,” which is translated and adapted by Susana Moscatel and Erick Merino. Much is the same, including the discussion of sexual violence in a number of the pieces.
The production offers headsets for English translations, a laudable effort but a frustrating way to experience the show. Some words, after all, are the same in both languages. Vagina is one of them; clitoris is another.
In a monologue early in the show, Ms. Rubin-Vega laments the ugliness of the word “vagina.” But in Spanish, with that soft, aspirated “g,” it’s really not so bad. For “clitoris,” regrettably, there’s nothing to be done.
“Los Monólogos de la Vagina” continues at the Westside Theater, 407 West 43rd Street, Clinton; 212-239-6200, monologosvagina.com.