“The Underpants” – BUFFALO THEATRE ENSEMBLE

 

By Carl Sternheim Underpants.

Adapted by Steve Martin

 Director: Amelia Barrett

Scenic Design: Michael W. Moon

Costume Design: Gretchen Woodley

Lighting Design: Jon Gantt

BUFFALO THEATRE ENSEMBLE

January 18 to February 3, 2013
A Very Clever Comedy

 How can a play begin with someone dropping her underpants?  Well Carl Sternheim conceived the idea back in 1910 before the days of reliable elastic, and Steve Martin adapted Sternheim’s idea for modern audiences.    As a farce, Underpants contains no slap stick or slamming doors, but does give a refreshing change of pace through many naughty double entendres.  The characters begin as solid stereotypes, before the days of political correctness, but change and offer surprises as they interact with each other.  The creative dialogue from two playwrights results in a very clever sparkling comedy with some universal themes.

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The plot begins when Louise’s (Lynda Wellhausen) underpants fall down while watching a parade in Dusseldorf, Germany as the King’s entourage goes by.  This embarrassing incident causes over reaction from her machine-like husband (Kurt Naebig), and triggers several men (Patrick Tierney, Gregory Rothman, Bruce Worthel) seeking to rent a room in their home.  Gertrude, a neighbor (Kelli Walker), encourages naïve Louise in the methods of seduction.    The mayhem begins with much of Steve Martin’s humor buzzing through the characters.  In fact, he could play every part in the play!

The word “ensemble,” part of Buffalo Theatre’s title, appropriately describes the extremely well-balanced cast in “Underpants.”  Each portrays their character, rising to their own dramatic moments, but never upstaging one another.  Mentioning one actor’s name would seem to slight the others…they were all spot on and delightful.

Michael Moon’s appealing and detailed set played beautifully with the themes of the play with its angles and triangles, encouraging many criss-cross stage movements for a play that could have appeared static.  Additional symbolism emanates from details like the cuckoo clock, and the frequent tweeting from the bird in a cage.

McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage is one of the only community colleges in the country to house a professional ensemble…The Buffalo Theatre.  The program says they, “…actively search out plays that test and provoke our previous assumptions.”  They

“…seek to understand emotionally, imaginatively and intellectually – what it means to be human in the broadest sense of the word.”  The “Underpants” accomplishes exactly that with its virtues and vices.

For a good date-night play, or for most any adult who seeks a funny light-hearted evening, I strongly recommend “Underpants”.  It is likely one of the best plays you will see in the suburbs this year.   The humor flowed so frequently that the 90 minutes flew by, and the conclusion arrived almost too quickly.  This classic gem of a play will continue for many years because of its creative and thoughtful dialogue, ribaud humor, and universal themes to which most can relate.  You may see your relatives or friends in the characters, or maybe even yourself!

.RECOMMENDED

Margaret Eva

Date Reviewed:  January 18, 2013

Performances:   Jan. 18 – Feb. 3, 2013.   Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets –            $25 to $33 with $2 discounts for non-COD students and seniors age 60 and over.                                          MAC Ticket Office at (630) 942-4000 or purchase online at  www.AtTheMAC.org.

McAninch Arts Center, Bulding K-Theatre

425 Fawell Blvd.

Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Free parking in Lot E, right beside the Theater in Building K.  (Extremely easy to access.)