A clear anticipation had carved itself into the faces of those attending the Theatre on the Bay last night, increasing my intrigue in the widely praised phenomenon that is Defending the Caveman. The longest running solo play in Broadway history and a worldwide hit in no less than 16 languages this is a play that, it seems, is rarely seen just once.
Directed by Tim Plewman (from an original version by Rex Garner) Rob Becker’s play highlights the boundless, insufferable differences between men and women, tracing the gender ‘abyss’ back across the millennia. The opening scene makes poetic introduction to the authority of women in times as early as the cave era. No sooner was a subtle truth of worshipping suggested than a collective delight instantaneously rippled through the females in the crowd and the reactions from one gender or the other barely let up from that moment on. This cleverly chiseled version of the 21 year old comedy is in its essence an achieved vocal meditation on the inherent tendency of the sexes to misread one another. It’s a simple feat to sit back and soak up the humour as the energetic Alan Committie guides his audience on a traditional tour of thought provoking, laughter breaching comedy, tracking the evolution of man from ‘the hunt’ to ‘the hunt for being right’.
Metaphorically light on his feet, Committie juggles prehistoric playfulness and jousts with gender-alization as an eager audience hangs on his every word and gesture. Well, everyone still in control of their senses that is. One lady, in paroxysms of voluminous laughter, nearly de-seated herself more than once. Committie’s facial and vocal expressions combine a platter of surprises that could be enjoyed as a separate offering altogether and his interaction with the audience is legendary. In our case, the occasional: “Please, Sir, laugh with everyone else” became a rotational classic.
The character imparted by Alan Committie is (and will remain) a timeless gift in a well woven concept. Rich in meandering intonations and acute observation, Defending the Caveman leaves no stone unturned in its ruthless examination of the sexes. By sincere fashion, the performance concludes with Committie wording a short address of appreciation. A standing applause was a notable gesture towards the actor who would likely be the cause of many muscle-related abdominal aches in the morning.
Defending the Caveman runs from 4 – 28 July 2012 at the Theatre on the Bay.