The Moaning Yoni, presented by Joylyn Secunda and playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, follows the story of Zoë and her anthropomorphic ‘Yoni,’ which Secunda brilliantly characterizes as a brash, Jewish, loud-mouth vagina. Nicely played with her pink/red billowing costume to really stick the landing.
When you arrive in the Theatre Passe Muraille backspace, you’re presented with some soft Indian style music, setting the scene of a calming and centered yoga studio. As soon as the action begins, Secunda draws the audience in with a welcome from the instructor of a course to ‘cleanse your Yoni’. There is a little narrative hiccup as we aren’t quite sure who the story is about until five minutes in, but once we attach the talking Yoni to the meek Zoë, the central arc begins.
Joylyn Secunda has a natural talent that entices the eyes with an energy that fills the entire space. You can tell how specific her movements are as you’re easily able to follow the transition between each character with just a slight adjustment in the voice and a simple stance change.
As someone who identifies as asexual, I was very intrigued and related personally to the story of not ever really being interested or attracted to anyone, but still feeling like I just wasn’t doing it right. What I loved is how the character’s sexual identity isn’t thrown in the audience’s face, and leaves her unlabelled feelings completely open to interpretation, without closing doors to those who identify otherwise (99% of the population).
It could do with a stronger narrative, though. I understand this is a story about Zoë discovering (maybe?) how to please her Yoni, but I felt the journey we went on was a little confusing. Secunda transitions nicely between a health class presentation, meeting tinder dudes (swiping them left or right), and physicalizing the different types of kissers, but we never really see a conclusion to her story.
She makes a good choice by calling back to the cleansing-your-yoni instructor, who also has Youtube tutorials about tantric sex (with or without a partner). Personally, this teacher was one of my favourite characters, but it also felt like an easy way to try and pull everything together, without really accomplishing such.
I found some of the props to be meaningless, as though they were there just to just fill up time. For example, she hands out coloured balls to the audience during ‘health class’ to explain the statistic that half of people who have sex have herpes (yay!), and how kissing is gross. It was more for the joke than for the purpose of the story, as we lost Zoë in a sea of other classmates.
But aside from a few story gaps with no real ending, I feel like Secunda, as a performer, is a beautiful person to watch. She has great comedic timing and fantastic physicality that really shines, as well as a killer, unique singing voice that she plays with throughout, bookending the show.
Moving from some really hilarious expressive faces to some really deep emotional breakthroughs (with a Ken doll), I would be delighted to see the expansion of this piece into something fuller, because I 100% guarantee, over everything, that Secunda would pull it off flawlessly.
- The Moaning Yoni plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. (16 Ryerson Ave.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Sexual Content, Audience Participation, Mature Language, Unsuitable for Minors.
- This venue is wheelchair-accessible, with some tight cornering. Accessible seating is in the front row.
- Friday July 7th, 01:15 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 06:45 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 02:45 pm
- Monday July 10th, 04:00 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 06:45 pm
- Wednesday July 12th, 03:00 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 09:45 pm
- Saturday July 15th, 08:00 pm
Photo of Joylyn Secunda by Emily Cooper Photography