HOLD ON TO YOUR BLOOMERS FOR "THE UNDERPANTS"

Bonnie Goldberg

Whether you call them unmentionables, undies, panties or underwear, you know they engender titters and giggles, especially by the immature or young. Those scanty undergarments are the object at the, dare I say, bottom of the Carl Sternheim comedy "The Underpants," cleverly adapted by Steve Martin for maximum pleasure and fun.

Whether they're frilly or flimsy or fancy or even utilitarian, you're sure to be tickled by the tale of Louise Maske (Jenny Leona) who inadvertently causes a minor scandal when her drawers fall to her toes, surely by accident, just as the King parades by where she is standing. Assured that no one has witnessed her predicament, Louise proceeds to pick them up and resume watching the monarch as if nothing has gone awry.

Unfortunately for Louise, there have been any number of people privy to her personal plight. When her bully of a husband Theo (Jeff McCarthy) hears of her indiscretion, he is livid. He is sure he will lose his bureaucratic government position and they will soon be penniless and homeless.

When a varied assortment of gentlemen come to the Maske's apartment, they all have two things in common: they have happily seen Louise's indiscretion and they can't wait to sign a lease for the room for rent. A poet Versati (Burke Moses) seeking his muse, a hypochondriac barber Cohen (Steve Routman) who wants to be Louise's protector and a dotty senior citizen Klingelhoff (George Bartenieff) appear in short order to claim their prize. Meanwhile Louise's upstairs neighbor, the adorable yenta Gertrude (Didi Conn), plays the matchmaker who takes vicarious pleasure in Louise's accidental fame and the romantic possibilities it creates. Dusseldorf at the turn of the 20th century has never been more intriguing, thanks to the spirited direction of Gordon Edelstein, in this collaborative venture with Long Wharf Theatre. Lee Savage's set is a delight as is the entire ensemble cast of creative characters, who flit in and out of the lingerie party, one worthy of a Victoria Secret.

For tickets ($25 and up), call the Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org. Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., with select Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2 p.m.

Join the farcical parade where a two second scandal creates a sexual circus that promises Louise a walk on the wildly romantic side.


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