Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review: One Woman’s Quest to Overcome

By Ed Malin

For fifteen years and counting, The Tank has been one of the most catholic of performance spaces. Just about any kind of live performance can be found there and, even better, receives their support.
I finally visited The Tank's new space on West 36th Street, which, luckily for the artists of the world, has two stages. Playing to a packed house in the middle of a three-day run was Molly Brenner—who performs much at UCB—with her boldly personal one-woman show Molly Brenner Isn't Coming.  The show is directed by Madalyn Baldanzi.
Molly is 28 years old. She informs us she has never had an orgasm, not even the accidental ones some women get from a horse or a bannister. She was worried she might have one before the show opened and wreck everything, but she is still qualified to tell this enlightening story.
Through a series of monologues as herself and some highly-recognizable other characters, she uses comedy to talk about her body and a condition that is often not discussed without shaming.
photo by Tucker Mitchell
In brief, the lights come up on Santa Claus, who chuckles “Ho ho ho! Merry Vaginismus!”
Vaginismus is a clinical-sounding name for a fear of penetration. Molly suggests she could make herself sound sexier by telling a lover “my problem is I've got tight vagina”
We meet Sex Barbie, the doll with the right genital organs, who, if she didn’t exist, children would find it necessary to invent her.
We hear the story of a young woman who goes to high school, hears what her fellow students are up to, and thinks that masturbation has just been invented. Later, with her gynecologist, she is prescribed various exercises to help her body relax from her condition.  These dilation exercises take approximately 20 minutes, which is exactly the length of an episode of the TV show “Portlandia”.   Still later in life, she calculates that if she were ever to have an orgasm, it would take as long as two episodes of “Portlandia”.
There is a lot of universal empathy in this play.  So many things in life could happen if we didn’t get distracted wondering if they were about to happen.  Thus is “meta” the enemy of pleasure.
And here's one that may make you realize how able-bodied you are: Molly reminds us that some women have never even seen parts of their anatomy, and so are just shocked that men like to expose their own body parts. Definitely something that would disappear if more thought were involved.