SALT LAKE CITY — Singing the Diaphragm Blues & Other Sexual Cacophonies is an engaging one-woman show written and performed by Rebecca L. McCarthy that recounts her own experiences being sexually assaulted, growing up as a woman in America, menopause, and all the things womanhood entails. The performance is directed by Dale Westgaard.

Show closes August 6, 2023.

Like a lot of theatre, the play has interaction elements where Rebecca asks if anyone in the audience knows what a diaphragm is (yes) and if they have ever seen one before (no). She walks along the side of the audience, which prompts the lights to brighten to reveal everyone in attendance, and they dim when she heads back to the main stage. But the most fantastic use of light is when Rebecca is demonstrating how to insert a diaphragm; she gets behind a tall screen as the room has gone completely dark, and there is a single light illuminating her silhouette. She lays on her back, spreading her legs wide, and when that fails, she bends over and tries to insert it that way. It’s a hilarious gag that she repeats when showing how to remove the diaphragm.

Throughout the play, McCarthy assumes various personas to describe events from unique perspectives. The performance opens with her wearing a red scarf around her neck, pretending to be her grandmother, then herself as she confronts her grandmother. As it progresses, McCarthy reverts to being the child version of herself, her mother ,and then later her adult self. There is a unique character in the play, a British woman with a captain’s hat, whom I assumed was Margaret Sanger (the woman who invented the term “birth control” and a role model to McCarthy). But this same character gives child Rebecca a book on reproduction to take to school, even though the child refers to the character as an aunt. It is an unclear moment amidst an otherwise entertaining production.

Despite this one confusion, the play overall is both informative and enjoyable. When McCarthy’s mom asks her to get a diaphragm, she has to go to the doctor to get fitted. The lights turn green, and eerie music plays as she changes into a dress with a hair bow to go to her appointment. There’s a doctor’s voice over the speaker that is explaining how the diaphragm works, and Rebecca reveals a tiny puppet propped up on an examination table as the recording instructs her to put her (the puppet’s) feet into the stirrups as the doctor (McCarthy) pulls out the speculum (to use on the puppet).

Singing the Diaphragm Blues & Other Sexual Cacophonies is a personal testimony about the trials and tribulations of growing up in a family and culture with so much silence. As McCarthy briefly praises the existence of the #MeToo movement and Brendan Fraser’s own confession to being assaulted, this play offered an avenue for the playwright to talk about all the events that she has experienced and ideas she has encountered. The play acts as a highlight reel of various important moments to McCarthy and ends on a highlight of personal, female empowerment that many audience members can enjoy.

Singing the Diaphragm Blues & Other Sexual Cacophonies is part of the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, which is playing through August 6, 2023, at various times at the Alliance Theatre (602 East 500 South, A103, the Annex, Salt Lake City). Tickets are $15. For more information, visit

These reviews are made possible by a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks program.