photo credit: Damian Vines Photography
This show has now closed. Thank you to all who supported the production and to those who joined in the fun at the theatre.
Said Christopher Key, local Bellingham blogger/reviewer, about the show,
"Steve Martin is one of our true national treasures. The wild-and-crazy-guy keeps showing us that he is far more than just a comic genius. He writes, he directs, he plays the banjo. In The Underpants, opening this week at Mount Baker Theatre’s Winter Rep, he mentions the unmentionables and it may make you wet them.
The scene is pre-World War I Germany, where men are men and women are furniture. At least until Frau Maske accidentally loses her knickers in public. Suddenly, the cream of German manhood rises to the occasion and they all want to rent the Maske’s spare room. The ensuing madness makes you wonder how they ever won the war. Oh, yeah. They didn’t. Never mind.
Director Teresa Thuman has assembled an ensemble cast that will show you theirs if you show them yours. It’s a sex farce that will warm a chilly winter night without any actual sex. Only Steve Martin could pull off such an oxymoron. He adapted a script by the rather revolutionary German playwright Carl Sternheim and screws Victorian morality to the sticking place.
Jennifer A. Ewing returns to the Rep after a star turn in last year’s The 39 Steps. She plays the repressed housewife with immense dignity. But when the suitors who have witnessed her public embarrassment show up, the repressed housewife becomes something else. Ewing’s transformation into what passes for a wanton in pre-war Germany is a thing of beauty and she’ll make you want to see her panties. And you will. Sort of.
Her husband is portrayed by Christopher C. Cariker, another veteran of the Rep stage. His take on German male-chauvinist-piggery is as authentic as it gets. Herr Maske is, of course, mortified by his wife’s indiscretion and more worried about losing his job as a mid-level bureaucrat than he is about his wife’s dignity. Cariker’s portrayal is full of bluster, among other things.
The first suitor who wants to get into the Maske’s spare room along with Frau Maske’s knickers is Frank Versati. He is a crazed poet who would rather describe her delights at interminable length rather than actually do the deed. Ian Bond is manically perfect in the role as he spouts pseudo-Teutonic philosophy with immense glee and a rather insane gleam in his eye. Freud would approve.
MBT newcomer Pat Kachikis is the next in line to rent the spare room as the supremely neurotic (and hypochondriac) Benjamin Cohen. That’s Cohen with a K. His performance radiates innocence along with the desire to protect his object of affection, Frau M., from the obviously randy Versati. He’s totally Kosher. With a C.
Akilah Williams needs no introduction to local audiences after her performances at MBT Rep and the Bellingham Theatre Guild. She’s her usual brassy and brilliant self as Frau Maske’s upstairs neighbor, Gertrude Deuter. Gertrude lives vicariously through the indiscretions she hopes Frau Maske will commit and does everything in her power to encourage them.
John Parra is a recent transplant from Colorado and has already made a rather large impression on the local theatre scene, despite his supposedly retired status. He is the final applicant to rent the Maske’s spare room and has no idea why Frau Maske’s underpants are of such interest. Parra doesn’t get much stage time, but makes the most of it as a delusional scientist who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome.
This production is one of those proofs of the synergistic theory that the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. These superb actors play very well together and you’ll never see underpants in the same way again.
The Underpants plays February 13 through March 1 at the wonderfully intimate Walton Theatre. "