General Medical · Theater

Theater Review: Eve Ensler’s ‘In the Body of the World’ — When the V-Word Meets the C-Word

In-The-Body-Of-The-World_BooksAbout halfway through the profoundly moving one-woman show In the Body of the World, the narrator remembers the incredible lightness, the buoyancy, she felt after her grueling cancer treatments were finally over. Her oncologist cuts her short and explains that they will have to be vigilant to insure the disease doesn’t return. The first step, he suggests is radiating her vagina.

“You’re going to radiate my vagina?” she says, in shock. She repeats, “Radiate. My vagina. Radiate. My vagina. Radiate. My vagina.” She pauses with a knowing look to the audience, then asks . . .

“Do you know who I am?”

Eve Ensler is arguably the single most likely person one would associate with the V-word. And this moment in her new play is at once memorable, ironic, devastating and acutely funny.

Ensler, of course, is the author of The Vagina Monologues, the play which received a well-deserved Obie Award (the Off-Broadway equivalent of a Tony), has been performed in more than 140 countries and published in more than 40 languages, and that sparked V-Day, an international movement to end violence against women and girls.

Over the years, Ensler has been recognized with multiple awards for her literary and non-profit work. These include a special Tony Award (the Isabelle Stevenson Award for a member of the theatre community who’s made a substantial contribution to humanitarian, social service, or charitable causes) and a Guggenheim fellowship, as well as honors from Amnesty International, Planned Parenthood, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Women’s Prison Association.

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Although she is best known for Monologues, she is a prolific playwright, author, journalist, filmmaker and activist. Her other staged works include Necessary Targets, The Good Body, Emotional Creature and The Fruit Trilogy. Her books include the New York Times bestseller I Am An Emotional Creature and Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir. The new play, recently produced at American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) in Cambridge, MA, is based on her critically acclaimed 2013 memoir.

Six years prior, while she was working tirelessly to open a sanctuary for Congolese rape victims, Ensler was diagnosed with stage 3-4 uterine cancer. Thus began a journey that included self-recrimination (Did she ignore warning signs? Did she somehow poison her body through choices she made or didn’t make?), navigation through our country’s medical machine, making peace with her own family and history, and eventually finding a new way to connect to her body and to the world.

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  • Andrea June 27, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Always admired Eve Ensler! What a brave and compassionate warrior!! Thanks for the review Alex!