Sometimes, all you’re really in the mood for is a good, hearty laugh — and there is something about underpants falling down that will never not be funny.
The Gallery Players’ new production of “The Underpants” is just that kind of fun. It’s a lighthearted, yet fiercely acted romp through the ramifications of what happens to an innocent, young, married woman whose underpants fall down in public in Dusseldorf, Germany, circa 1910.
There are ensuing affairs, in almost every sense of the word.
The 90-minute play begins just after the aforementioned undergarment of Louise Maske (Catia Ojeda) have fallen during a parade for the king. Her conservative (to say the least! This guy makes John McCain look like Trotsky!) husband Theo (Justin Herfe), is outraged and humiliated, and imagines the worse: he will lose his job, he won’t have any money, they will starve, etc.
Just when he thinks things can’t get worse, a line of suitors appear at his door, inquiring about a room for rent. But it’s not a room they’re looking to fill, it’s Louise.
Sex will always be funny, particularly when conversations about both the desire and the act are done through witty innuendo and double-entendres (including an extended bit about weiners). When characters go to great lengths to avoid the actual issue at hand (with puns like those — a-ha!), it means the laughs are even louder.
The actors and actresses expertly take and deliver the script, adapted from Carl Sternheim’s German farce by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin).
There’s the “proudly unpublished” poet Frank Versati (Nat Cassidy), whose bright aqua ascot matches his eyes and his socks and who speaks in hilarious, forced metaphor. He expertly woos the naïve Louise — but his real quest is to write the best poem yet.
The nebbish Benjamin Cohen (Jason Schuchman) is a sensitive man with severe hypochondria, and stumbles his way through shyness and intuition and stubbornness to get to Louise.
Louise — a sweet girl in a very new, very loveless marriage — realizes with the help of her gossipy neighbor Gertrude (Amy L. Smith) that those naughty thoughts of Versati and Cohen are called fantasies.
And of all of them, fierce Theo is a man set in his stubborn ways, namely that a woman’s work is in the kitchen and sex is for anniversaries.
The actors play out these specific characters with great skill, and facial expressions and body language are often more fun to watch than even the fast-paced, well-rehearsed dialogue — all of which makes “The Underpants” a delight, a great value, and, most of all, the perfect respite from the seriousness of real life.
“The Underpants,” Sept. 19–28, at The Gallery Players (199 14th St., between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope). Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. There are additional performances at 2 pm on Saturday, Sept. 20 and 27. Tickets $18. Call (718) 595-0547 for information.
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