As I walked into Mount Vernon United Methodist Church to see The Goddess Diaries, I had high hopes that I’d undergo a religious experience. Unfortunately, while the 75-minute series of monologues was divinely performed and executed, it couldn’t overcome the fact that it completely failed to deliver the audience any revelations whatsoever.
Founded by Carol Campbell in 2010 after she solicited stories from her female friends and family members about important milestones in their lives, The Goddess Diaries is a collection of seven ever-changing monologues delivered by girls and women ranging in age from 11 to 66. Bongos, tribal dancing, chanting, and a Western European agricultural wheel are also involved. The show has been staged throughout Northern Virginia, with the money raised going to women-focused charities in the DC area.
The performers, none of whom are professional actors, were the most polished I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe Festival, and the production itself went off smoothly and without a hitch. Unfortunately, great showmanship could not salvage the unoriginal and uninspired content.
Describing The Goddess Diaries as an extremely PG-rated Vagina Monologues would be a start, but the tameness could be easily overlooked if the stories told revealed anything new or surprising or unique. Instead, they are more like the theatrical version of stock images, told by an all-white cast: a 17-year-old goes to the gynecologist for the first time and it’s awkward, but nothing out of the ordinary happens; a woman in her mid-thirties is excited to get married, but afraid of losing her independence (but not enough to not get married); a middle-aged woman who, deep down, never thought she would experience menopause realizes it’s not an end, but a new beginning. The sad fact is, hearing the full-length narratives in person doesn’t really add more to these descriptions.
The one exception was a vignette called “I Had Other Plans” about two teenage girls who were lured into a predatory sexual relationship by their 30-year-old church youth group leader, only to be shunned by their own congregation when they chose to speak up. This dual monologue showed true emotion and anger for an unsympathetic society. When one performer says “I never thought I’d be talking about my sex life to the Washington Post – I had other plans,” you believe her, and feel for her. Unfortunately, this was the only true emotion evoked within me over the course of the evening.
The sad fact is that while the cause is noble and the production value is high, there is very little to feel rapturous about as one walks away from The Goddess Diaries.
The Goddess Diaries has 5 performances, ending July 28, 2012 at Mountain at Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church 900 Massachusetts Ave NW DC.
Details and tickets
John rates this 2 out of a possible 5.