★★★☆☆ - Satisfying
The play "The Underpants," now showing on Las Vegas Little Theatre's main stage, is like an Henrik Ibsen drama and a bedroom farce all rolled into one. Adapted in 2002 by Steve Martin from Carl Sternheim's 1911 play "Die Hose," which is a satire of the bourgeoisie, it covers a lot of ground thematically but without really going anywhere. And while it's full of double entendres, witty banter, and thoughtful musing, the plot revolves around female subjugation and sexual objectification, which in LVLT's presentation evokes both laughter and dismay.
The setting is Dusseldorf Germany in 1910, a time when married women were considered the property of their husbands. As the show opens, a shocking incident has just occurred. Young housewife Louise's bloomers fell down as she stood tippy-toe trying to see the King in his parade, and her uptight husband Theo fears his reputation will be ruined by those who witnessed the event. But the two randy gentlemen who did happen to see it--the poet Versati and the barber Cohen--have something entirely different in mind. Titillated, they arrive separately at the couple's doorstep in order to rent a spare room in their flat, hoping to seduce Louise and get into her pants. And busybody neighbor Gertrude is more than happy to help.
Since the actors' experience levels are varied, director Chris Davies keeps the performances on the understated side so there's not excessive mugging. But the physical bits could use more choreography and the difficult relationship between Theo, played by James Raven Malpino, and Louise, played