Review: ‘Puppetry of the Penis’

Yes, we have no bananas onstage tonight at the John Houseman Theater. Gymnastic feats aside, the performers in "Puppetry of the Penis" are spectacularly un-endowed with talent of any shape or form.

Yes, we have no bananas onstage tonight at the John Houseman Theater. Gymnastic feats aside, the performers in “Puppetry of the Penis” are spectacularly un-endowed with talent of any shape or form.

As is now widely known after the show’s London run, Simon Morley and David Friend wrap, fold, twist but mainly stretch their respective members into all sorts of configurations said to resemble the Eiffel Tower, kangaroos, hamburgers, wind surfers, pelicans and other objects. These claims are the only glimmer of imagination Morley and Friend exhibit.

Billed as “the ancient Australian art of genital origami,” this brand of self-abuse looks more like some latenight gag perpetrated in pubs Down Under. Friend kept asking the audience, “Did you have a few before you came tonight?” Maybe inebriation would have helped, because I couldn’t tell the difference between his pelican and his kangaroo or his snail and his Loch Ness monster. The Eiffel Tower appeared to be the baby bird upside-down.

Morley and Friend employ a video camera to broadcast their shenanigans, projecting the image on a screen so the back row can tell what their fiddling amounts to.

The female comic who acted as a curtain-raiser for this curiosity broke no new ground with jokes about mousy gentile women and vapid L.A. guys. Attempting to warm up the audience, she nearly froze hers. She was replaced during previews by Wendy Vousden.

Puppetry of the Penis

John Houseman Theater; 299 seats, $44.50

Production

A David J. Foster and Ross Mollison presentation of a performance conceived and created by David Friend and Simon Morley.

Creative

Design, Andrew Dunn, Thomas Milazzo; production stage manager, Janey Rainey. Opened Oct. 5, 2001. Reviewed Sept. 30. Running time: 1 HOUR, 20 MIN.

Cast

With: Simon Morley, David Friend, Wendy Vousden.

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