Girls Only, now playing on what my truncated ticket stub ironically refers to as the “main stag” at Hennepin Stages, comes advertised as a show about “the secret comedy of women.” The production’s logo is a locked diary. You would think that ad campaign would attract scores of curious men—I mean, who doesn’t want to learn women’s secrets? Instead, at this Sunday’s matinee performance, one 60-something man and I were the only two people in the house with Y chromosomes. What did we learn? That women think tampons are really funny.
Well, some women. I brought my friend Katie, who was disturbed by the show’s fixation with feminine hygiene products. “Just because it’s something we’re ‘not supposed to talk about,'” she said, “doesn’t mean we have to talk about it.” Or turn it into a rocket, or make a Christmas ornament out of it, or stick it on a shoe and dust the floor with it.
|girls only, presented through april 3 at hennepin stages. for information and tickets ($29.50), see hennepintheatretrust.org.|
Girls Only was created, and is performed, by Barbara Gehring and Linda Klein, actresses from Denver who have taken their show on the road. The tone of the show is set immediately, when you enter the theater to find two women in their early 40s lounging in multiple layers of lingerie in a little girl’s bedroom decorated in 1970s style, paging through Victoria’s Secret catalogs. Then the show starts, and they begin singing, dancing, and removing layers of lingerie. It’s not a striptease—they’ve got bejeweled brassieres to show off.
The show proceeds in a series of comedy sketches in various styles—improv, music, monologue, even shadow puppetry. Gehring and Klein are surprisingly dry comediennes, and I had the distinct impression that they want to be edgier than they know they’d better be if they want to keep filling that cabaret seating. A joke about a school-age boy breastfeeding received an audibly uneasy reaction, but there was a big, sincere awwww over the line, “There are many women who come into your life, but there’s only one woman from who your life comes—your mother.”
Much of the comedy centers on the performers’ childhood reminisces, and the show’s appeal seems to lie in its invitation for grown women to revisit their wide-eyed years of girlhood. Boys are much discussed, but there’s little talk about men. Puberty is a big subject, but sex is hardly even alluded to. Fun is poked at the institution of the baby/wedding shower, but childraising is not something that Girls Only gets into. The funniest sketch has Gehring and Klein improvising an interaction based on the contents of two random audience members’ purses, but why do many women carry so much stuff around all the time? That is a question for another show.
The show ends much as it began, with Gehring and Klein dancing around in their underwear. (This time, it’s a ballet that involves unconventional uses of pantyhose.) The Des Moines Register says that “Girls Only is like one big sleepover—without having to worry about your dad coming down to shush everyone.” As one might expect, the Iowans have it about right. This is a show for grown women who want to have a big sleepover together: to jump on beds instead of making them, to giggle about boys instead of worrying about men, to use sanitary products for craft projects instead of thinking about the logistics (or the politics) of the reproductive cycle that necessitated their invention.
The Vagina Monologues is for men and women to watch and think about together; this show truly is for Girls Only, and it’s best enjoyed by the Sandra Dees of the world. Rizzo would be at the bar with the male bartender, planning a very different kind of slumber party.