What happens in the lives of the family of a middle-aged zookeeper, Artie Shaughnessy, in Queens, New York, on October 4, 1965—the day of the Roman Catholic pope’s journey through Queens—is the result of an explosive combination of a lifetime of dreams and realities. Blending historical and personal events, Guare describes the play in his introduction as “a blur of many years that pulled together under the umbrella of the Pope’s visit.”
Based on Guare’s father (who referred to his Wall Street job as a “zoo”), Artie comes home from his job to an untidy house. At home, he devotes his time to playing and singing corny jingles that he has written, with dreams of Hollywood success constantly on his mind. His household consists of his insane wife, Bananas; his mistress, Bunny Flingus, who lives in the apartment below; and his eighteen-year-old son, Ronnie, currently a serviceman stationed in Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Artie, with the knowledge of Bunny, is in the process of making arrangements to put Bananas into an asylum. Ronnie arrives, unnoticed, with a box of explosives intended for the pope but which, in the course of the play’s manic action, go off accidentally, killing three visitors, two nuns, and a visiting Hollywood actress. Ronnie, Bunny, and three visiting nuns maneuver to get as near the pope as they can, each for personal reasons. Among the frenetic events and images of the play, one of the most hilarious is that of the...
(The entire section is 493 words.)