After centuries of repression by the phallocentric hegemony, the vagina has become very chatty. Now an acclaimed monologist, with a biography by Naomi Wolf out in hardback, it takes the eponymous role in "Potential Space," a new play by Kirsten Vangsness premiering at Theatre of NOTE.
Vangsness, best known as Garcia on "Criminal Minds," stars in her own play as Dulcie, a young woman with a psyche so fractured that its parts are embodied by a Greek chorus. There’s her sex, named Jenny (Jennifer Flack), who announces, "I'm a slut" but cramps up at critical moments; her bespectacled, nerdy brain, Dulcenea (Lauren Letherer); and her heart, Annie (Wendi West), sweet and dim in a pink tutu.
All three seem limited, and that's the point: Dulcie can’t incorporate them into a whole self. Assuming sex is the answer, she feverishly chases boys: first eely Jake (Tristan James Butler), then condescending Curtis (Trevor H. Olsen) and finally sinister Ameron (Eric Neil Gutierrez), whom she persuades to hit her. All along she leans on Andy (David Wilcox), her dying gay best friend, who faithfully indulges her self-absorption but may be just another fragment of her psyche.
In both her writing and her acting, Vangsness is at her wacky, ribald, breathless best when she mixes the sparkly imagery of Disney-style romance with the crude physicality of sex, as when her alter egos explicate a map of female genitalia that is part anatomy diagram and part fairy-tale kingdom.
The result is a fresh, scabrously funny and beguiling dramatic voice, which director Bill Voorhees and his bold, committed cast bring to vivid and enthusiastic life. Only the finale, in which Andy guides Dulcie to a revelation that is, disappointingly, withheld from the audience, falls flat. Vangsness has a gift for leading us exactly where we didn't think we wanted to go; it doesn't suit her to pull her punches.
“Potential Space,” Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Oct. 27. $25. (323) 856.8611 or www.theatreofnote.com. Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.