With a name like Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana it’s hard to formulate too many expectations. I knew it was a play and from the press release I knew that the main characters were imaginative children. This was indeed true but I was surprised that a show with such a silly name was actually really good. Let me set it up for you: You are a ravenous savage and what you thought was a subterranean theater is actually at an attic in Kansas. The three kids who live in that house, with help from their imaginary friends, act out stories their grandfather told them to entertain you in hopes that you won’t eat them.
The children are played by adult actors but they capture the feel of being children perfectly. As Sinclair, Michael J. Connolly is precocious and doesn’t really dress like a kid but you never forget he is, whether he’s being driven almost to tears from frustration or being picked on by his older siblings. Lauren Sowa’s Sam has a hilarious outburst every time someone refers to her saleswoman character as a salesman which will definitely remind you of your sister or niece or some brat that you know. The acting is fantastic across the board but the overall concept is what makes it.
The kids act out a bunch of stories, which in my opinion get less interesting as they go along, but as the show progresses the main story takes shape. While the last story told is the simplest it’s also the most affecting because of everything that comes before it, and because it‘s mostly told in silence with visual aids. It’s little details like those capture the sentiment that writer Croft Vaughn is trying to convey. For instance, no kid today listens to cassette tapes, or probably even know what they are for that matter, but the story just wouldn’t be the same if the kids were fighting over an iPod.
Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana was originally staged by Vaughn himself as a one man show. I have no idea what it was like then but its hard for me to imagine the show without all the wonderful actors and the colorful characters they bring to life. Bring your kids and they will probably have a good time. Or don’t. I’m in my twenties and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Plus everyone in the audience gets a vegan cookie! Yay!
Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana will be playing at UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Ave and Ave A), until Octobe 24th. To reserve tickets and to get more information, visit the website http://www.wtetheatre.org/Site/WTE.html