Review: Plan V: The Joyful Cult of Pussy Worship

A sex-organ seminar and an absolute hoot

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Eleanor O'Brien, photo by Shiah Lints
Published 17 Aug 2022

Could there be anything more painfully embarrassing than audience participation in a show entirely about vaginas? Perhaps a room full of Fringe-goers being asked to share their "pussy joys"?

Painful, perhaps in less safe hands, but these are the hands of sex positive theatre-maker Eleanor O'Brien whose experience in educating and entertaining, rather than shaming, shines. No awkward silences here because, just before the moment of cringe, O'Brien steps in and plays her own participants. In a square of light representing a screen, she dials in as her own characters attending this futuristic online lecture-cum-self-help-cum-cult-of-the-pussy session. It's one of a number of lovely theatrical devices which makes Plan V both a really handy sex-organ seminar, as well as an absolute hoot.

In fact, this show isn't about just vaginas. It's a show about pussies which, as O'Brien in her character of club-meet leader points out, much better describes the whole "kit and caboodle" of female genitalia. We're all attendees at this club meet, here to "proselytise for the pussy" and share "tips and tricks". It's a scenario she plays with verve and a "pussy energy" that never drops. Soon, we're in a surprisingly uncontrived breakout room, where we bear witness to the show's highlight: a long description of cunnilingus which is not at all porny, but entirely joyful and captivating. "Can he breathe? I don't care!" she shouts on point of rapture. It's a notable piece of theatre, rather than simply being educational (which it certainly is, too – the Fringe has many remaining taboos, but I can report that the one about Bacterial Vaginosis has been irretrievably broken).

On occasion, O'Brien tells rather than shows, especially in a section on the patriarchy, misogyny and shame. But these are rare missteps amid the best lecture you've never had.