The key to understanding a man’s brain is represented on a single stage at “The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?” playing now at the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre. The stage to the actor’s left, analogous to the “logical” left hemisphere of the brain, contains an old dirty couch, a TV with a bra stuck on the antenna, a dartboard and many cases of beer. On the right, the “emotional” side consists of a blank chalkboard in front of a satin curtain.
The play is a one-man comedy show written by Robert Dubac, which explores the conflicted mental state of a character named Bobby, played by actor Ben Evans. Bobby has just been dumped by his fiance after he refused to let her cat sleep in their bed. This is because Bobby, like all men, hates cats. Since this incident, Bobby has been endlessly analyzing their relationship while drowning his sorrows in beer and self-help books, agonizing over the age-old question of what women want.
In between Bobby’s ruminations, various characters from his life appear to offer insight and guidance. These five “chauvinists,” as Bobby describes them, are conveyed by Evans through minor costume changes, accents and mannerisms. The Colonel, an old man decorated for bravery in Vietnam and Korea, makes the first appearance, instructing Bobby that the key to women is honesty. Next is Jean-Michael, a cultured European student who recommends communication. Fast Eddie, a leather-jacket wearing rebel type, advises Bobby to “keep his heart out of the picture” and provide women with only passion. Old Mr. Linger, a slightly loopy character out of a local nursing home, imparts the value of a sense of humor. Finally, Ronnie Cabrezzi, a rather brainless but well meaning individual, suggests sensitivity.
Bobby records each quality on the chalkboard to the right. He considers each, as well as its source, with the help of a disembodied female voice which occasionally asks probing questions such as “WHY?”
Bobby uses this information to produce several thought-provoking conclusions of his own. He thoroughly explores the differences, or perceived differences, between men and women. One example can be found in dancing. As Bobby says, “We both dance, but for different reasons. Ladies, you dance why? Because you like to, it feels good. Guys, we dance why? Because we like to have sex. It feels good. Sex is the only reason men dance? Dancing to us is not a fun activity. It’s a job. We work hard enough at our job, we get paid.”
“The Male Intellect” manages to give a comprehensive look into the absurdities and peculiarities of dating. Its writing seems to rely on clichs and generalizations at times, but Evans as the lead is likeable and relatable, reminiscent of a younger Ben Stiller. Still, the play will give you much to think and talk about afterwards.
The play is lively and engaging, attracting an audience of mostly twenty-something couples, some older. The Downstairs Cabaret Theatre provides an intimate setting with about 20 small sets of tables. Food and drink are available for purchase. The Male Intellect runs about 90 minutes without an intermission. For more information, see http://www.downstairscabaret.com.
Hass is a member of the class of 2010.