Safety Banana review by Sue-Anne Hess

****.5 stars

“.. All the single ladies.. (All the single ladies)..”

Safety Banana, a one-woman show by Jacinda Patty, is a momentary glimpse into the life of backpacker extraordinaire, Cindy, who is waiting for a guy in the lobby of a hostel. Having escaped from the suffocating pressure of family expectations, she has cast aside all the comforts of home, and has taken off to explore the distant horizons.  All that she carries with her is 14kg backpack called “Nugget” (containing an unexpected collection of footwear), and a safety banana. Stay with me, the banana actually works.

Jacinda Patty has perfectly crafted this slightly eccentric, yet endearing Bridget Jones-esque character, Cindy. As she regales tales of travel, romance, and adventure, you get the feeling that Cindy hasn’t quite found herself, making her all the more likeable. She is a girl who celebrates and promotes all of the independence and freedom that a modern woman can enjoy, but is also vulnerable, fragile and a bit weird (when her banana talks to her, she talks back)!

The script is made all the more interesting by the fact that it is based around real-life experiences – which will come as no surprise to anyone who has travelled on a budget.  Cindy gives us a taste of the exciting moments, and the lonely ones, where a banana is her only companion, and helps her to make important relationship choices.  Jacinda Patty’s delivery is convincing and polished, and her comic timing is without fault. She interacts with the audience playfully, without being awkward, and responds with spontaneity and warmth.

The dance sequences also demonstrate the range of Patty’s performance abilities, from tap shoes to roller skates. Whilst understandably brief, the music and movement provides a “change of scene” where audience members are drawn into Cindy’s dreams, memories, and fantasies (and I’m pretty sure the Dirty Dancing lift was unscripted). She is absolutely an accomplished dancer, and yet she seemed a little restricted by the cramped stage and limited space. It would have been amazing to see what she could have offered, had room allowed her.

In fact, the one major criticism of Safety Banana, is that forty-five minutes was simply not enough. For a performer of Patty’s skill and creativity, Safety Banana offers massive potential on all fronts, and begs to be developed into a major piece of work. The stage, costumes, lighting and props were all conservatively understated, and unnecessarily so.

In these short minutes, Cindy really only shares a few selected memories, even though there is clearly so much more to tell. For a girl who rejects the pressures of marriage and children, she betrays a noticeable fixation with both, and it would be great to see the character somewhat more “rounded out”. Early in the show, Cindy declares “the world really is beautiful”, and we’re waiting to learn why she thinks that and what she has learned. Still, this is an entertaining and light-hearted night out, where middle-class, 30-somethings can have a laugh, a drink, and do some reminiscing of their own.

set: 3.5/5

costumes: 4/5

Sound: 4/5

lighting: 3.5/5

performances: 5/5

stage management: 3.5/5

direction 4/5

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