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Paulanne Simmons

Going Bananas

Clarke McFarlane and Silvia Machete in "Planet Banana" thru June 25 at Ars Nova. Photo by Richard Mitchell.

“Planet Banana”
Created and performed by Silvia Machete & Clarke McFarlane
Ars Nova
511 West 54th St (at 10th Ave.)
Thurs. at 8 pm, Fri. at 8 & 10 p.m. and Sat. at 8 p.m.
Opened March 18, run extended thru first week in June
$20 (212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons, May 7, 2005

It may be that the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge was an apple. And it may be that it was the apple that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden for bad behavior. But everyone knows that the sexiest fruit is really the banana. This implicit knowledge is made explicit in Silvia Machete and Clarke McFarlane’s “Planet Banana,” at Ars Nova.

Bananas are peeled, munched slowly and fondled. One banana reaches orgasm all over its lover’s face. And the high jinx is perfectly appropriate considering it’s all about monkey business.

Machete, a graduate of the Ecole du Cirque in Nanterre and a veteran of the Bindlestiff Family Circus, and McFarlane, who began acting and juggling at the age of 10, have developed a fast-paced, racy and zany show that liberally mixes sexual innuendo, music and circus arts.

There is a story – of sorts. And it has something to do with finding true love. The route is circuitous and mined with perils. But between the “coup de foudre” and the denouement, the drama alternates with such entertainments as juggling, cross-dressing, a sensual trapeze act, a balancing act, music and audience participation.

One especially high point of the evening is a rap number with the wonderfully provocative lyric, “You’ve got me all confused. You’ve got me rhyming like Dr. Seuss.” Another is a duel of banana pieces tossed from mouth to mouth.

For 90 minutes Planet Banana keeps everyone in the audience scratching their head, tapping their feet – and laughing.

After seeing Planet Banana, it’s hard to consider the shapely fruit in the same light ever again.[Simmons]

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