Reviewing The Berkshire Fringe: “Dark,” “Riot” and “Yelling at Bananas in Whole Foods”
by Gail Burns
A trip to the Berkshire Fringe Festival is always a highlight of the summer. This year Bazaar Productions has restructured the Festival a bit, inviting international artists, offering fewer shows for longer runs, and presenting a work of their own creation. I was able to take in three of the five 2012 offerings in one evening last weekend and my impressions appear below in the order in which I saw the shows. Sadly, my own busy August schedule will probably prevent me from seeing the other two Fringe offerings this year – Haerry Kim’s “The Bathtub Play” and Daniel Forlano’s “Fragile Nincomtard” – but I encourage you to catch them and the many other stage and music events on offer.
YELLING AT BANANAS IN WHOLE FOODS
Written and performed by Dan Bernitt
Directed by Paul Takacs
Dan Bernitt is a gay playwright and monologist. Although he has appeared at the Berkshire Fringe before, with his 2006 monologue “Thanks for the Scabies, Jerkface” and the 2008 “Phi Alpha Gamma,” this was my first time seeing him and hearing his work. I would classify “Yelling at Bananas in Whole Foods” as a monologue rather than a play because, although I know that director Paul Takacs had Bernitt on the move, my overall impression of the piece was one of him seated. Bernitt does have an on stage companion in the form of a small silent stuffed alligator named Chompy, who is credited in the program as playing himself. He also gives voice to a few characters other than the unnamed first person narrator, notably Susan Powter.
In case that name doesn’t ring a bell, here’s a reminder from Powter’s Web site: “Fitness and diet guru Susan Powter was a mid-1990’s self-help sensation, recognized by millions for her ‘Stop the Insanity’ mantra, signature high energy, direct delivery and white, buzz cut hairstyle.”
The Susan Powter character is either her current public incarnation or his version thereof. According to a brief snippet called Susan-Powter-needs-to-take-her-own-advice (no longer available) it would appear that Bernitt’s characterization of her as a stream-of-consciouness blogger and vlogger on all things food and health is quite accurate and I assume he has legal permission to use her name and trademark “Stop the Insanity” line.