Awards “There was one little show, however, that caught my fancy. It was called The Banana Monologues and it featured an OVER THE TOP one man solo act that was MORE THAN EXCELLENT! This show was so good that it might just sneak up the theatrical ladder and end up at an Off-Broadway theater next season. Here’s wishing them luck.”
- David Richardson, WOR Radio 710

Men and their penises have often been a subject of humor, especially for women, but John R. Brennan, Jason C. Cooper and Mary Cimino have taken this humor to a whole new level in THE BANANA MONOLOGUES. In a tug of war between the physical, fondly referred to as “Sgt. Johnson,” and the intellect, Gus Weiderman (Brennan) relates his four-year attraction to the beautiful Alexis. Portraying all characters, including his nemesis Darby, the high-energy multi-talented Brennan not only keeps the laughs coming through witty dialogue, dancing, workouts, sexual encounters, and military skirmishes, he also finds time to toy with the audience. In his tour de force performance, he manages to slip in a touch of vulnerability hidden by a cloak of macho, a secret good guy persona betrayed by his fidelity, a befuddlement about what women are thinking, and a sense of wonder when he actually gets it right. You gotta love this guy. Treat yourself to THE BANANA MONOLOGUES. It’s a refreshing surprise about an age-old subject, not to mention hysterically funny. Enjoy. Read more...
- Laurie Lawson, The Electronic Link Journal

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.
- Judith Jarosz,

The 80-minute [no intermission] solo relationship comedy The Banana Monologues, A Penetratingly Funny Show about Love, starring John Brennan and directed by Debra Whitfield, loosely-based on Tales from the Relationship, the book by Jason Cooper (a.k.a Gus Weiderma), opened last night [June 24] at Theatre Row's Acorn. A more apt title would be Tales from the Relationship Jungle! Or War Zone! That way Banana/ Sergeant Johnson's military combat penetrations could also be explored.

Brennan is a personable and energetic performer literally jumping, often quite excitedly, all over and up and down Roman Tatarowicz's spacious set on a stage some Broadway theatres might envy.

This is very light and a bit too often repetitious fluff. Don't confuse it, as you are suppose to, as a companion piece to the quite clever Vagina Monologues. However, from the squeals heard among avid younger females in attendance, Banana Monologues would make a perfect bachelorette outing for the six-to-nine inch heelers.

All told Banana Monologues, which began at Charleston's Piccolo Spoleto Fringe Festival and has been presented at other festivals, is the tried-and-tired story of the universal conflict with the ups and downs of a particular male body organ, is supposedly derived from "a true love story about a man, a woman, and his - well, if you haven't gotten the "joke" by now the laugh's on you. Whenever Gus (Brennan) attempts to split from his girlfriend, "Sergeant" Johnson, says Gus, stands firm.

Brennan, a Charleston, SC, native, is founder of the improv troupe, The Have Nots!, and an alumnus of Chicago's Second City and New York's Uprights Citizens Brigade. He's fairly easy on the eyes and a scamp of a spokesman for the sex jokes - some R-rated, but never as offensive than anything on TV's The Big Bang Theory [wonder if its fan base gives much thought to the title].

Responsible for all the tales of relationship ups and downs are Cooper, a pharmacist, who's one half of rock improv group, Doppelganger, and keyboardist/guitarist in Weird Science, an 80's cover band; Mary Cimino, director and an artist-in-residence for the SC Arts Commission (who wrote Lilita, which toured U.S. and international festivals); and Brennan.

Director Whitfield, also an actress, is co-artistic director of Algonquin Theater Productions and on the board of the Shaw Project. Producing is Gregory Taft Gerard.
- Ellis Nassour, THEATERLIFE.COM

“Hilarious! Irreverent humor, very funny allusions, and amusing tales! A great comic romp. Don’t bring the kiddies.”
- Richmond Shepard, Performing Arts INSIDER

“A perfect bachelorette outing. Brennan is fairly easy on the eyes and a scamp.”
- Ellis Nassour,

“Brennan’s performance is ADORABLE AND IMPRESSIVE! He fully commits to all the roles he plays, including the HILARIOUS personification of his penis as a gung-ho drill sergeant. Watching him work is A PLEASURE!”
- Duncan Pflaster,

“Derives its humor as much from the ways the characters interact with each other as it does from one man’s rocky exploits in pursuit of love and less lofty experiences. This opens up an opportunity for the talented Brennan to tackle all sides of a typical romance – he has the chops! He draws clear lines between the major players, and flips effortlessly between them as they fulfill their roles in the story. (Gus and Alexis’s more intimate encounters, presided over by the eternally battle-ready Sgt. Johnson, are the evening’s CHAOTIC, COMEDIC highlights.)”
- Matthew Murray, Talkin’ Broadway