A young housewife accidentally drops her panties in public, in front of the king, no less. Male witnesses are thrown into a tizzy of lustful pursuit. That’s the simple premise of Carl Stenheim‘s turn of the 20th-century farce, “The Underpants”, which Steve Martin has smirkingly adapted for contemporary audiences.
Nobody gives smirk like Mr. Martin, and the company at Custom Made Theatre delivers the laughs. Lots of them.
There is no point in going over the plot, as it is really just an excuse for sexy fun. There are Jewish jokes. There are German jokes. There are erection jokes. There are penis jokes. There are vagina jokes. There are old people jokes, fat people jokes, jokes on the bourgeoisie. There’s some alarming business with a sausage. And, this being Steve Martin, there is even a banjo joke.
Under the capable direction of Hal Gelb, the madness builds slowly but surely. The jokes come fast (oops) and not every one of them is equally funny. No matter, few audience members will get through this production without at least a few belly laughs, unless they are hopelessly staid in which case they probably shouldn’t be attending theatre in San Francisco, now should they?
Custom Made newcomers Riley Krull (as the underpants dropping Louise) David Vega (as Theo, the hopelessly bourgeois bureaucrat husband) and Michael Moerman (the uptight Klinglehoff) join company regulars (the always amazing) AJ Davenport, Gabriel Ross and Paul Stout in a happy collaboration.
On opening night, there were difficulties with the new lighting system, prompting an interruption and apologies (mid performance) from artistic director Brian Katz. Far from distracting from the production, this bit of mayhem only added to the fun.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Custom Made (whose venue is inside a church) is the strong sense of community, a sort of innocent “lets put on a show” feeling. At every opening, Brian Katz bounces around with the enthusiasm of a beloved high school drama teacher spouting anecdotes and wild energy. It is rare (and precious) for a highly professional troupe (which certainly describes Custom Made) to maintain this kind of innocent fun season after season. Congratulations to artistic directors Brian Katz and Leslie Abrams. Thank you for all the good times.
For further information, click here.
“The Underpants” adapted by Steve Martin from the play by Carl Stenheim. Director: Hal Gelb. Producer: Custom Made Theatre Company. Stage Manager: Hector Zavala. Costume Design: Scarlett Kellum. Light and Sound Design: Max Kurzinski. Property Design: Nicole Green.
Louise: Riley Krull. Theo: David Vega. Gertrude: AJ Davenport. Versati: Paul Stout. Kohen/Cohen: Gabriel A. Ross. Klingelhoff: Michael Moerman.