The Banana Monologues
nytheatre.com review by Judith Jarosz
June 20, 2013
John R. Brennan in a scene from The Banana Monologues | Carol Rosegg
The Banana Monologues written by John R. Brennan, Jason C. Cooper, and Mary Cimino is a quick paced one man show where we meet Gus Wiederman, a pharmacist and average guy who is haunted by a relationship that he had in the past. We travel back in time with him to analyze this three year relationship with the super-hot Alexis, who he meets while she is interning with him and in his opinion is (a way out-of-his-league woman). Gus senses from the get go that this connection is superficial, but following the advice of his “Banana” Sergeant Dick Johnson (yup) he sticks with her for three long years of mostly shallow interactions but incredibly great sex.
The piece, which is based on a true life scenario of Mr. Cooper, is a purging of why this relationship happened, why it lasted as long as it did, and how guys can be ruled by their “bananas” over reason, logic, and even emotions. This is not exactly breaking news to anyone, especially straight women, and for the first ten minutes or so my reaction was “ho hum…who cares?” However…this lively little show with actor John R. Brennan as Gus slowly won me over. An energy dynamo, Brennan leaps around the stage, portraying Gus, as well as his “Sergeant,” the hot Alexis, and her buddy Darby in an 80 minute gymnastic ballet that keeps us both interesting and amused. Seamlessly switching from one character into another in a flash, Brennan delivers the humor packed script with expertise of a master monologist, changing his voice and body language like an oversexed chameleon. Watch him dance seductively and flirt as Alexis, then turn on a dime into the stern Sergeant Johnson. I especially like the imagined fight scenes complete with sword fights that Gus has with Darby. Supposedly just a “friend” of Alexis, Gus knows him to be on the hunt for his lady. Squatting in a troll like fashion, Gus makes Darby resemble a character from Lord of the Rings who taunts him on how he will inevitably “I am ETERNAL!” win the beautiful Alexis, come what may. It’s pretty funny stuff, and the sound and lighting effects are fabulous.
Brennan is accompanied by the very clever and supportive lighting of Deborah Constantine and outstanding sound design by Mr. Brennan himself! This is all overseen by Director Debra Whitfield who does a wonderful job of staging this piece, using every bit of the striking multilevel set by Roman Tatorowicz, and making sure that while the pace is elastic, it never drags. And a special hat tip to Production Stage Manager Scott F. Delacruz for making all of the challenging cues tight as a drum.
Though my spousal unit and his male equivalents in the audience seemed to find more to howl at than the more estrogen prone members like me, there was still plenty to identify with for all. Yin or Yang most people have been in at least one relationship with shall we say…limitations? And at the end, Gus comes to learn about himself and realize what he really wants and needs. Growth, it’s a bitch, but in this case, a funny one.