Do you know what a Kegel is?
That was the first thing Sara Juli asked her Skidmore College audience on Saturday night. And then she proceeded to demonstrate in her laugh-out-loud one-woman show, “Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis.”
A Kegel for those who didn’t know, myself included, is an exercise to strengthen the pelvic muscles to avoid incontinence. It’s a condition Juli’s character suffers from, a symptom of her tense or spastic vagina.
Yet who could blame her for having a tense vagina – she’s a working mom.
The set was strewn with objects that scream Mommy -- a dollhouse, a Barbie karaoke machine and various stuff toys. And like the mom she is, Juli started by laying down rules of behavior while passing out snacks.
“You can have as many as you want, but you can have no more than two snacks, two snacks. After you are done, you have to keep your wrapper, keep your wrapper and throw it out later. If you can’t keep your wrapper, give it to the person sitting next to you. If they don’t want it, come up here to the garbage I placed here. I placed it here for you. I’m not going around picking up after you. If I see one fucking goldfish on the floor,” she said in a rapid-fire patter like a frazzled mom talking to a toddler.
The show was a mix of maniac vocalizations, pelvic floor exercises and crazy audience interactions. She dashed about the crowd, combing hair, blowing a nose and snuggling. The audience members were her children whom she nurtured as much as she scolded.
At one point, her Kegel exercises required the use of a vibrator, which she has the audience pass around.
“Don’t worry, I washed it before the show,” she said. “Don’t stick it in your ear.”
As audience members handed it around, giggling, she reluctantly took the rest of us through the step-by-step medical instructions for the vibrator. It was hysterical.
She then set up a garden of vibrators – of all shapes and colors – that hummed along as she tended them.
Juli’s plight was comically enhanced by her facile facial expressions and her 1950s mom apparel – a circle skirt with tulle petticoat dressed with heels and apron. Imagine Donna Reed with kids screaming “Mommy” a 100 times a day while “Farmer in the Dell” plays over and over in her mind as she tries to do deep breathing exercises on the floor.
While there was not a lot of dancing, Juli moved frenetically. Jabbing or slicing arms and legs expressed her worry, stress and anxiety that finally came to an end.
Keleging conquered incontinence and Juli and the kids lived happily ever after.
If you missed Saturday’s show, “Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis” will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 5 and 6, at the Performing Arts Center at the University at Albany. Tickets are $20 and $15 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty and staff. Tickets can be purchased by calling 518-442-3997 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.