By Chris Tait
Looking for cartoony monkey love? Does the primal ritual of water-spitting turn you on? Do you often retreat to yoga to relax after a long day of debauchery and unsuccessful pick-up lines aimed at co-workers?
Then you should feel right at home at Lunchbox Theatre’s presentation of Nicole Zylstra’s Monkey Business, where a day in the jungle can bring the monkey-barrel-filling fun without even mentioning the word "banana."
Amidst the thick foam foliage of the deep tropical jungle, Horace (Ryan Luhning), whose bookshelf consists of the porcelain that covers the back of his toilet, attempts to pick up Myriam (Barbara Gates Wilson), the professor in charge of a study involving tranquilizing monkeys in the jungle and catching their plummeting little bodies in a net. Between drugging and catching, the two of them engage in witty, sexy jungle-banter, and before long they’re doin’ it like on the Discovery Channel.
Drawing on labels acquired from years of university students engaging in primal drinking rituals, Zylstra’s play focuses on the assumptions and misconceptions encountered when choosing a mate. The intelligent, single, virile younger male approaches the uptight, slightly older, also single prof, and questions her presumptions about relationship possibilities. These labels are the genius of the play.
Not unlike a hard night of university drinking (see: soccer cabs, rez kids, rugby players, etc.), Monkey Business begins with comedic buzz and fun, slowly receding into the sobering dawn of last-call desperation and post-festivity reflection.
Don’t get me wrong, the play is more fun than a barrel of retarded, drugged-up little monkeys, but it’s also dramatic and thought provoking in a shallow, Radio sort of way. It’s also completely devoid of the "coyote ugly" syndrome or the blinding hangover regret. Take from that what you will, but I swear I mean it in a good way.
The play gets around to dealing with interesting topics like memes (for the psychology majors), commitophobia (for the social science people), sexual interaction (for the rez students), nature (for the biologists), tautology (for the communications profs) and the best ways to drug small animals (for everyone). And all in one hour.
Although it might hold special appeal for anthropology majors, I think everyone will enjoy the hilarity and pensiveness of this play.