Perhaps the most irritating thing about The Banana Monologues is the title. It seems to pander to audiences who've heard of The Vagina Monologues and have been dying for someone to finally set the record straight and hear what Men have to say about their private parts (and without even enough emotional honesty to call it The Penis Monologues; it hides behind a coy euphemism- though of course that may be because the title The Penis Monologues has already been used for just such an execrable show) .
Fortunately, The Banana Monologues is not such a show; the one-man comedy is written by Mary Cimino, Jason C. Cooper, and John R. Brennan (the latter of whom also performs the piece), based on Cooper's book Tales from the Relationship (a much more accurate title). The play recounts a love story between Gus (Brennan), and his girlfriend Alexis (also Brennan), complicated by the pronouncements and needs of Gus's penis, Sgt. Johnson (also Brennan). Most of the script falls into the familiar territory of "Men are from Mars, Women are Incomprehensible", with the childish Gus working his way into, through, and out of the affections of Alexis, meeting along the way the various stumbling blocks of The Long-Distance Affair, The Woman Who is Angry For No Reason, and The Woman's Male Best Friend.
It might be considered vaguely sexist (though all too common) female-bashing, if Brennan were less adorable and his performance less impressive than it is. He elegantly straddles the line of making Alexis a character instead of a caricature, and fully commits to all the roles he plays during the 75-minute show, including the hilarious personification of his penis as a gung-ho drill sergeant . In the intimate Dorothy Strelsin space, he is close enough to fully connect with his audience (indeed, a drop of his sweat hit me during an especially vigorous moment), and watching the actor work is a pleasure.
The show is nothing particularly new, but is innocuous and quite funny in spots. If you're longing to hear (again) what straight dudes and their penises think about women, this may be just the show for you.
The Banana Monologues
Dorothy Strelsin Theatre (Abingdon Complex), 312 West 36th Street.
Performances are: Thursday, July 14 6:00pm; Saturday, July 23 8:30pm; Sunday, July 24 7:30pm; Wednesday, July 27 9:30pm & Saturday, July 30 4:00pm.
Tickets are General Admission: $18 and for students/seniors $15. To purchase tickets go online to https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/834765; or call 866 -811-4111.
For more information: www.midtownfestival.org & www.thebananamonologues.com.