The Underpants – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Actor, comedian, playwright and musician Steve Martin seems to be unusually preoccupied with unmentionables (which he mentions liberally) like knickers, bloomers, undies and underwear.  As the adapter of a German play that centers on a little accident on a street during a parade, a comedy called “The Underpants” by Carl Sternheim, he can be forgiven for his obsession with all things intentionally hidden.  The Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin is having a rousing good time poking fun at the lady’s dilemma weekends until Saturday, June 22.
Quite unintentionally, Louise Maske (Ashley Ayala) causes herself a scandal when her drawers fall to her toes right as the King is parading by. Even though she quickly picks them up and restores her delicate condition, believing no one has witnessed her predicament, she is sadly mistaken.  Her ultra conservative husband of a year, Theo (Rick Bennett) is madly and wildly angry when he hears the tale.  He fears he will be fired from his job as a government clerk and perish in humiliation.  With stern words and disapproving gestures, he admonishes Louise for causing him embarrassment, sure that she has done so intentionally, and they will soon find themselves penniless and homeless.  What a bully!
Soon Louise is enjoying a bit of celebrity.  The Maskes’ have a room for rent and quickly a line of boarders are eagerly awaiting the chance to lease the space.  A poet Versati (Russell Fish) sees Louise as his long lost muse for inspiration, a barber suffering from hypochondria who may or may not be Jewish (James J. Moran) wants to sign on as Louise’s protector from her many new admirers and a dotty senior citizen Klinglehoff (Dave Wall) who has a remarkable resemblance to Hitler all practically bang down the door to sign on as roomies.

Enjoying the chaos is their upstairs neighbor Gertrude (Barbara Horan) who can’t wait to play yenta to Louise and inspire her to take advantage of all the new romantic opportunities that have magically appeared.  Gertrude doesn’t think that highly of Theo and welcomes the competition.  She even offers to make Louise some irresistible frilly and fancy undies to help her subdue and conquer.  Gertrude cannot wait for some vicarious pleasures through Louise’s actions.

Director Kris McMurray creates a charming Dusseldorf, Germany at the turn of the 20th century on a delightful set designed by James J. Moran. This laugh out loud comedy is stuffed with innuendoes and surprises, so please don’t underestimate the powers and passions of a glimpse of forbidden lingerie.  Lust, desire and jealousy battle for being the lacy fringe on the package in question. All the actors take great joy in creating the comic confusion.
For tickets ($30), call the CT Cabaret Theatre, 31-33 Webster Square Road, Berlin at 860-829-1248 or online at www.ctcabaret.com.  Shows are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:15 p.m. Remember to bring goodies to share at your table or plan to buy dessert at the concession stand onsite.
Get in line for the sexual circus innocently started by Louise in a two second scandal, one that horrifies her husband but allows her to take a walk on the wonderfully wild and romantic side of the street.  When the King himself makes an unexpected entrance, can you guess who it will be?  Come see!

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