By: Sandi Durell
Attention Sgt. Johnson!
There seems to be one outstanding “character” in this one-man comedy mash-up, and it’s Sgt. Johnson.
John R. Brennan – the man who plays several characters; romps, rolls and cajoles his way in, around, up, down and through the platform stairs that make up the scenic design (by Roman Tatarowicz) in this 80 minute concentrated theme of who really rules the roost, written by John R. Brennan, Jason C. Cooper and Mary Cimino. It’s surely not the male brain, but that body part located below the belly button that seems to exhibit a mind all its own. Yes, that male organ! Why, in Gus Weiderman’s world, he has real conversations with his alter ego who always appears to be on the winning end.
Gus, a lonely hospital pharmacist, meets the trim, slim, physically fit hot and sultry young Alexis, at a pharmacy conference in Colorado, and instantly falls for her. But when she gets transferred, while he remains in Charleston, their long distance romance presents more problems than one could imagine. Sweet little lovey-dovey phone calls, lots of sexual chat, chat, Skype sex and all the while there’s Sgt. Johnson – always, present and ready, and making a fuss. After all, says Gus: “Women need labels, men need labia.”
Let’s not forget, Brennan not only plays Alexis and Gus but, more succinctly, Sgt. Johnson and Darby, a troll-ish character whom he believes is trying to steal Alexis’ heart. As the time flies by in these sexually obsessed conversations, thoughts and physical outbursts, he seamlessly morphs from one character to the other in a battle of who’s going to win; which is sometimes exhausting. There is also accompanying music to help set the moods – “Oh My Love” – as Gus sees himself as a Patrick Swayze type lover.
There is a continuing storyline, as Alexis and Gus meet up in Ft. Lauderdale for lots of . . . sex as the 3-way conversations flip quickly into raunchy sexual double entendres, not leaving too much to the imagination. (ah, whatever happened to the days when you could use your imagination!) There’s an entire segment devoted to “blue balls” in the sophomoric chatter that prevails. But the bottom line is always . . . that banana!
Brennan is a consummate performer having a grand ole’ time and giving his audience similar reactions. He’s quick, both verbally and physically, using very few props – a couple of accessory costume changes here and there, breaking the 4th wall at various times to discuss the situations and grievances with audience members in his frustration as he battles the strength of where the real male brainpower lies. To quote the bi-line (for proper perspective) – “A penetratingly funny show about love.”
“Banana Monologues” is deftly directed by Debra Whitfield, produced by Gregory Taft Gerard and plays at the Acorn Theatre on West 42nd Street, NYC