Who: Syracuse Stage
Where: Archbold Theatre at Syracuse Stage
When: October 21-November 8
Tickets: $18-$41 for a single show
“The Underpants,” written by funnyman Steve Martin is laugh-inducing, side-eye-inflicting comedy that makes you laugh at genitalia jokes even if you’re trying your best not to.
Syracuse Stage offers Martin’s satirical adaptation of German playwright Carl Sternheim’s 1910 “Die Hose,” or “The Trousers” for part of the fall.
Martin sets his adaptation in the same time period in Dusseldorf, Germany. Louise Maske, played by Marianna McClellan, is the housewife whose underpants lie at the center of the story—or around her ankles.
Her underpants fall down in front of all of Dusseldorf to see, and it seems that they saw quite a lot. For what seems to be a mortifying moment for a woman in the early 20th century, is quickly hijacked by male characters whose comedic flare and ignorance of their own intentions are forgiven by fine acting backed with a strong script.
Theo Maske, played by Mark David Watson, is Louise’s husband who feels that he might be in danger of losing his beloved job as a civil service worker. His focus on his job and his money blinds him to the two men seeking to rent a room he has.
Versati the poet and Benjamin Cohen, played by Daniel Passer and Michael Brian Dunn, are the two renters who want to rent more than the room. Louise’s underpants have enticed them both into being tenants who long for what they saw the day of the parade.
Their struggle to have Louise acts as a solid base for much of the comedic acting and dialogue. It was enjoyable to watch these men make Louise’s moment about themselves, and their loins and their future. Her neighbor Gertrude, played by Sarbina Profitt, tries to remedy Louise’s sex life by living vicariously through her and trying to aid her in affairs, giving a Lucy and Ethel-like scheme.
The productions’ wit and committed actors with impeccable comedic timing, makes “The Underpants” the right recipe for lots of laughs. The actors don’t just tell us what they’re saying and doing is funny; their actions also tell what is funny alone.
Although underpants are actually what contemporary audiences would consider long underwear or bloomers, it’s the actors’ fusion with their material that make us laugh at their innuendos and truly believe that something edibly lecherous is happening. The actresses dressed in Oktoberfest-like outfits even offer more fun when the main characters aren’t on stage during the scene changes.
Syracuse Stage’s “The Underpants” is just plain fun.