Sunday, September 28, 2008

Underpants NYC

So actor Bruce Barton and I went to see Nat Cassidy in THE UNDERPANTS.

As expected, Nat was great in the role of Versati, this wacky unpublished poet and would-be seducer. Really, he was the best thing in the show.

I was curious to see what critics have thought of the play itself, and to my amazement they all think it's just swell. But then, most critics are idiots and are far too impressed by the fact that the play is an adaptation by the comedian Steve Martin.

Because really, it isn't a very good play. It has some funny moments, mostly when Versati is on - and Nat played him with full-on outrageous over-the-topness. But as Bruce noted, it was a sex farce without any sex. And once Versati left, the plot goes straight downhill. Where it should be ever more outrageous, it instead becomes washed out - at one point I thought it was going to morph into A DOLL'S HOUSE. And the rex ex machina ending was the lamest of the lame - Martin didn't even emphasize the boorish husband's ambitiousness enough to give his turn of fortune at the end any meaning at all.

Even the Village Voice seemed to like the play, in its review of the 2002 Classic Stage Company's production. Although I do like the ending:
Edelstein has basically commissioned a cat to rewrite an anti-feline play. Martin is a fat cat, too, who leaves downtown theaters in stretch limos, so he evidently can't help identifying with Theo. "The bourgeoisie is us," he recently told The New York Times. It may not concern him that Theo is a walking cautionary tale, as relevant to Germany in 1911 as he should be to America after 9-11. We've never needed a good playwright to take the piss out of middle-class blockheads and flag-kissing nationalists as much as we do now. But indifference is the bonbon of privilege, isn't it?

At least the Gallery Player's production had period costumes, which I enjoy. And I talked to Nat's mother after the show and she agrees that Nat looks better with longer hair. I high-fived her for saying that. Nat's a nice half-Jewish boy, he should only listen to his mother!