Both Gudenrath and Hirschorn bring their respective characters to life in perfect performances that leave you craving more
The play opens with the immediately scene-stealing Layla, played by Beth Gudenrath. A tour-de-force of sexuality and self-confidence, Layla is a working actress who understands that her body is something to be used for her career, that looks are just as important as acting talent. Entering a bar she meets Sue Anne, an adjunct professor of sociology working as a waitress to pay the bills. Sue Anne, played by Rachel Hirschorn, is quieter and introverted, but hopes to start a family. Shocked by Layla’s lifestyle, but intrigued by her, we see the origins of their friendship as they speak about their relationships with men and the strange ways in which sex can change one’s life. We hear how their relationships played out, how their careers changed and learn of their frustrations with various medical issues. As the play is multi-biographical, the characters feel like real people in both their joys and heartbreaks. With this comes a good amount of situational comedy, as the characters relate their problems to each other, looking back on experiences with both a dark sense of humour and genuine sadness. As the play progresses, Sue Anne’s story of anguish and anger at her infertility commands the stage as she struggles in desperation to have children.
The play is performed entirely through these two character’s duologue, reflecting the privacy of their conversations - a wine bottle ever constant. This is a setting completely divided from men, giving the characters leisure to talk about sexual issues that make the men in their lives squirm. The title of the play is an example of this. “Your Mother’s Vagina” asks you to respond to the phrase with maturity and without shame, to challenge the way in which the word “vagina” is associated with discomfort and pornography. The play sets out to highlight the many difficulties women have with their bodies, all within one hour: a little overwhelming at some points, but never boring. The set is simple but informative, the blue lights above the stage before the play began put me in mind of an obstetrician’s, as did the slab-like table. Direction is simple but, like the set, the few moments of directorial flourishes had meaning.
Your Mother’s Vagina is a well-written, well-paced journey through the medical lives of two working women. Both Gudenrath and Hirschorn bring their respective characters to life in perfect performances that leave you craving more. Though the one-hour run-time seems too short, the play deserves credit for trying to cover so many issues as realistically as it does. An intelligent and enlightening production.