A friend at the production remarked, "There are so many double-entendres . . . and I understand some of them."
"A double entendre is a figure of speech or a particular way of wording that is devised to be understood in either of two ways, having a double meaning. Typically one of the meanings is obvious, given the context whereas the other may require more thought. The innuendo may convey a message that would be socially awkward, sexually suggestive or offensive to state directly (the Oxford English Dictionary describes a double entendre as being used to "convey an indelicate meaning", whilst Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines it as "a word or phrase that may be understood in two different ways, one of which is often sexual").
A double entendre may exploit puns to convey the second meaning. Double entendres generally rely on multiple meanings of words, or different interpretations of the same primary meaning. They often exploit ambiguity and may be used to introduce it deliberately in a text."
I used the direct quote above to explain the term because I had to explain the phrase to another friend as we discussed the play at dinner after the production.
Notoriety is short-lived . . . or is it? The story is simple: in 1910 Dusseldorf at a parade where the Kaiser/King is riding a young woman stretches to view him and her underpants fall down. Although she quickly grabs them and tucks them underarm, the "wardrobe malfunction" raises her to instant fame among sex or love starved men, which thereby embarrasses her petty bureaucrat of a husband. Soon there are multiple applicants to rent a formerly un-rentable room in their apartment.
Louise (played by Cassie Jo Fastabend), the innocent young housefrau, is egged on by her upstairs neighbor, confidant, and affair-minded love doctor, Gertrude (played by Deya Ozborn), "Lies, deceit, and trickery . . . my little girl is growng up."
First in/first out applicant is poet Frank Versati (played to the hilt by Ben Stahl). Versati waxes poetical and his words woo Louise quickly, but he's more interested in words than action, while she is left with lips pursed, heart beating, and alone on the chaise lounge as he goes out to think about his poem.
This is the sexiest version of the play I've seen (ACT Theatre in Seattle, and CenterStage in Portland), and TLT warns of content, but in reality nothing naughty happens. It's a sex romp, but only in our minds.
Fastabend does an excellent job as the eager young student of love and Ozburn does an excellent job as her older tutor. Fastabend is a University of Puget Sound graduate who is pursuing her masters in acting. Ozburn is an actor, playwright, and blogger as well as a friend of my buddy Scott C. Brown (another excellent actor).
The second applicant is Benjamin Cohen (played by Andrew Fry). No, that is not a "Sieg Heil" salute, but there is commentary about racial/religious profiling as Benjamin introduces himself as “Cohen with a K" and later clarifies a comment that something is Kosher with a "C." Fry played the "Old Man" in last year's production of A Christmas Story".
Versati is interested in Louise partly because he thinks he’s madly in love after a glimpse at the parade, and Cohen is interested in Louise because he thinks she needs protection from Versati. They end up sharing the room for rent but each paying full boat for the sub-division to the money hungry husband, Theo (played by Jed Slaughter), who hasn't made love to his wife since the honeymoon almost a full year ago). It turns out Theo has had other outlets and is interested in Gertrude. They play a nice scene apart, together.
Throw in two other applicants for the room, an old scientist who is "über" shy and a “distinguished visitor”, the Kaiser, drugs, refined sugar, and various sex drives and you have a nice little farce on your hands. Although this play was written about a hundred years ago, it was adapted by the original wild and crazy guy, Steve Martin.
The pacing was good, the set was substantial even with two levels and three doors and a swing out window. The costumes worked well (except for the uniform and cape) and the properties were handled nicely.
The play was enjoyable but needs a full house to feed off the lines and the laughs from the other audience members. The Underpants runs through October 2nd, with 7:30 performances on Friday and Saturday and Sunday matinées at 2. Call the box office at 253-272-2281 for information and tickets. Check out their website tacomalittletheatre.com for the rest of their 98th season.