Banana Boots


61 pages
ISBN 0-88922-396-3
DDC C812'.54





Reviewed by David E. Kemp

David E. Kemp, former drama professor at Queen’s University, is the
author of The Pleasures and Treasures of the United Kingdom.


Anglophone playwright David Fennario was raised in the working-class
district of Pointe-St-Charles in Montreal, an area he would make the
centre of most of his plays. His Marxist politics and his desire to
bring the problems of the working class to public attention caused him
to break away from mainstream theatre. Joe Beef, an agitprop work, and
Gargoyles, which tells the history of his beloved Point-St-Charles from
a working-class point of view, were both produced by his own community
theatre group.

Fennario recently said that he considers all of his plays—as produced
by Montreal’s Centaur Theatre—“political and artistic failures.”
He expands on this point Banana Boots, a one-man play that is
essentially about his life in the theatre and more specifically about
the tour that took Balconville to such places as London, Bath, and
Belfast. In the latter city, Fennario experiences an epiphany involving
the parallels between the “troubles” in Ireland and Quebec’s
sovereignty struggles. What brings about this realization is a soulmate
Fennario meets in the troubled capital of Northern Ireland. “Banana
Boots” is an Irish stand-up comedian who regales his audiences with
scathing caricatures of both Ian Paisley—the bigoted figurehead of the
Unionist cause—and the leaders of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the
Irish Republican Army.

Balconville, the British tour, and Fennario’s life in the theatre are
all treated with the playwright’s trademark passion and humanity. The
last lines of the play evoke a clear vision of the role he sees for
himself in Canadian theatre: “I’ve done most of my stuff with small
theatre companies that have a mandate for social change. And it hasn’t
always been easy, as probably some of you out there know, trying to
balance a political commitment along with paying the rent. But at least
now when I read my name in the newspapers, I know it’s me.”


Fennario, David., “Banana Boots,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,