I'm a Freelance Writer - MPG Communications and Author - Maria P Frino (pen name).
A fast-paced farce with lots of slamming doors
The Seymour Centre presents The Underpants written by Steve Martin in an extended season from 31 Oct to 23 Nov, 2019. This play will have you laughing out loud with its absurd humour. It begins with bored housewife, Louise Maske (Gabrielle Scawthorn), whose underpants fall whilst she is watching a parade where the King is in attendance. A play adapted from a 1910 comedy by Carl Sternheim, you can imagine how uptight people were about underwear being seen in public. Doesn't sound funny right? Your underpants falling in public. Embarrassing maybe, but not funny.
The fight scene choreographed by Scott Witt. The audience laughed out loud. Photo credit David Hooley
The setting is in the Maskes' middle-class home. They live an ordinary existence, hence Louise's boredom. Be prepared for pompous misogynistic jokes, political satire, lots of slamming doors and three suitors wanting to rent a room in her home, where she lives with her husband Theo Maske (Duncan Fellows), a German clerk who wants a quiet life. He is a man of routine and having his wife be the subject of gossip due to the unfortunate incident, disrupts his life. He is not happy.
However, his anger soon disappears when two men suddenly come looking to rent a room the Maske's have available. There is only one room but Theo decides to put in a divider so he can double the rent. What he doesn't notice is the two men are only there for Louise. They both witness the underpants incident and want to have an affair with the beautiful Louise.
Frank Versati (Ben Gerrard), a dashing Italian poet and Benjamin Cohen (Robin Goldsworthy), a Jewish man who covers this by stating his last name is spelt with a 'K', both pine for Louise. With all of this, Theo is still clueless of what is happening right under his nose.
Louise, who is relishing in the notoriety her underpants incident has given her, considers having an affair with Versati, who seduces her with his poetic words. Enter Gertrude Deuter (Beth Daly), the nosy neighbour, who rather than discourage Louise offers to help her to go ahead with the affair by making her new, sexier underpants.
Cohen is jealous of Versati, he too wants Louise. Then ensues a fight scene that has everyone in the audience in stitches. Brilliantly choreographed by Scott Witt, Versati and Cohen fight in slow-motion, which is hilarious to watch.
For a while, it looks like Louise will succeed in having an affair with the dashing Versati, but then an older gentleman, Klinglehoff (Tony Taylor) comes wanting to also rent the room. By this time both Versati and Cohen have left the Maske home, seemingly for good. Much to Louise's despair, she has to become a dutiful wife again. But as farces would have it, the King pays a visit, he also wants to rent the room. Or is it Versati in disguise?
The actors aptly played these animated, over the top characters. They were clearly having fun. And the audience appreciated this, their laughter was heard right throughout the play.
Go and see The Underpants at the Seymour Centre, it's silly but will leave you with a smile on your face. Visit the Seymour Centre website to purchase tickets, the season is on until November 23.
There is parking available under the centre. For more information on how to get there, plan your visit here.