As all good Little Theatre of Alexandria buffs know by now, the latest show, The Underpants, was adapted by comedian Steve Martin from a German political satire by Carl Sternheim. IMHO, Martin also had a stronger, more direct influence namely, his own experience with that fountain of farce, Saturday Night Live. This play, in fact, could very well have been entitled Saturday Night Live in Germany 1910.
Like any really good SNL sketch, it starts with a simple but preposterous premise that soon spirals completely out of control. In this case, the action begins when a government official slams into his apartment reviling his poor wife for having accidentally (?) dropped her lacy drawers while Der Kaiser was parading by.
Now, it just so happens that the newlyweds are trying to rent a room. Not surprisingly, they soon find more prospective male tenants than a Duke Street townhouse renting at $100 per month. Theres the passionate poet, the stuffy scientist and even the minority member who keeps insisting that, in his case, Cohen starts with K and he simply adores Wagner.
Need we add that they all wind up falling hard for the lady who owns the wandering wardrobe? And the laughs just kept on coming from the full house at this matinee. Some came from the Greenspring Retirement Community while others were local theater buffs, but all seemed united in their determination to enjoy a fun Sunday afternoon.
The cast did not disappoint them. Claudia Love Petty is pretty enough to make us believe that every man wants her AND her underpantswith the single exception of her stuffy spouse. His affection falls, instead, on his wifes amoral friend. As played with gusto by Marianne Meyers, she won evenings loudest laughs.
After she confesses, for instance, that she is 42 years old, her seducer ardently exclaims, Water still runs through rusty pipes. To which she makes the show-stopping reply, Thats the most romantic thing anyone ever said to me! If that does not sound particularly funny OR romantic to you well, you just have to have been there. The way those two said it, their exchange really stopped the show.
All of the sexual silliness reaches its, er, climax with the arrival of a very impressive stranger, also determined to rent the room. He is so impressive, in fact, that no one seems to notice he does not look one little bit like his famous portrait on the wall (you know, the one with the waxed blond moustaches). In fact, he bears a much stronger resemblance to Der Kaisers cousin, the Czar.
Is this really Der Kaiser himself, in a very unconvincing costume? Or is it another character, whom we have met before, now wearing an equally bad disguise? Or has His Imperial Majestys cousin the Czar decided to show up, dressed as himself, in time to share the fun? Either way, you are half expecting him to end the show on this note of utter insanity by shouting, Livefrom Dusseldorf in 1910its Saturday Night!
The Underpants, which lasts 80 minutes without intermission, runs through June 28. Shows starts 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $14 Wednesday and Thursday, $17 Friday and Saturday and $16 Sunday. Call 703-683-0496.