Men Still Living in the Stone-Age?
CA - On
Saturday night, May 15, the enthusiastic audience at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts enjoyed an energetic illumination of male-female relationships from the modern caveman’s point of view. Presented by McCoy Rigby Productions,
Defending the Caveman is a smorgasbord of "compare and contrast" observational humor served up with the giggles, guffaws and belly laughs that characterize the perils and pitfalls of a modern-day man trying to survive in a relationship world where he is clearly out of his element. This one-man show cleverly traces the differences between men and women back in time to prehistoric behavior patterning that ensured the survival of the species.
Running just over two hours, and performed without intermission, Defending the Caveman is the longest-running solo play in Broadway history. Created and written by Rob Becker over a three-year period, the tongue-in-cheek premise is drawn from the author’s informal study of anthropology, psychology, sociology, mythology and prehistory. The show opens with a multi-media pictorial journey through a modern man’s life, boyhood to manhood, concluding with man in his home with
his woman. The man narrates historic and anthropologic background and
speaks of the caveman’s role as hunter and the cavewoman’s role as
gatherer, the genetic predisposition for the current state of
relationships. He tells of the caveman’s awe and reverence for the
cavewoman, because she does things he cannot: keeping watch while
gathering food, guarding the fire in the cave, and producing
offspring. She is magical, and he wants to protect the cavewoman and
make a safe place for her to practice her magic.
The centuries pass and women have evolved. Men haven’t quite caught up, and our modern-day caveman can’t find his footing in the new order. He describes the difference in men’s and women’s games: men’s games involve throwing, catching, hitting, kicking or grabbing a ball - any ball. Women’s games involve lots of words or doing household chores (playing school or house). We hear about negotiation vs. cooperation behavior in a group to accomplish a goal; why women are better shoppers than men and how they can find any lost item; why men like fishing and how they defend their territory, vehicular or otherwise; the different strategies for attending a cocktail party; and a revealing look into each group’s different language and customs.
Actor Chris Sullivan creates a modern man whose confusion becomes funnier as it becomes more understandable, and we gladly follow him in his exploration of relationship rituals. Mr. Sullivan inhabits his character so well and so thoroughly that you feel as though he might be telling his good buddies about a discovery he’s made: hey, here’s why we’re so mystified about the whole man-woman relationship thing.
Achieving just the right
disheveled look, Mr. Sullivan creates an immediately identifiable
‘guy’ everyone knows or has met: that somewhat charming,
slightly dim fellow whose typical answer is a variation on
‘huh?’ But this ‘guy’ is far from boring; Mr. Sullivan
uses movement and his physicality as well as language to enhance
and define the character. He carries the entire evening with
unflagging energy; no small feat, since he’s onstage for the
entire show. Without being overly sentimental, Mr. Sullivan shows
us that even a caveman has feelings. By show’s end, we care
about the ‘guy’ and have a greater insight into why he acts
the way he does. (The show is double cast, with actor Isaac Lamb
sharing the role.)
In lesser hands, the evening might be an exercise in male bashing. There is some adult language, but this show doesn’t rely on four letter words to make its point. The observations are familiar, yet so entertainingly presented through the man’s experiences that we laugh and enjoy our journey. You might not agree with the premise, but you’ll certainly laugh at it. This is an evening of good fun and a wonderful way to spend some time together without passing judgment.
- N. Riley
The show runs from May 14 with the final two shows on Sunday, May 30. Evening performances start at 8:00 p.m. with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Tickets are available by phone at 562-944-9801 or 714-994-6310, at a price of $38 for orchestra, $30 for balcony. Tickets are also available at the box office, located at 14900 La Mirada Boulevard in La Mirada. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday noon to 4:30 p.m.