DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN, comedian Rob Becker's one-man show about the age-old battle of the sexes, first appeared in San Francisco in 1991. It went on to become the longest running solo show on Broadway and, since then, has been translated into 16 different languages and been produced in over 35 different countries. It was presented last weekend, February 8th. through 10th, at the Kimo theater, featuring Cody Lyman as the classic 'every man' figure.With a minimal backdrop and virtually no props, he set out to show that males and females really are members of fundamentally different species and have been since the beginning of time.
It requires a great deal of stamina and enormous versatility to keep an audience entertained for 90 minutes with a monologue, which is, effectively, a stand-up comedy routine. The show opens with a video montage of male and female stereotypes throughout the ages, clearly stating as its fundamental premise that men are hunters (goal-oriented, focused on results) and women are gatherers (seeking information, facts, life experiences.) The rest of the evening is devoted to demonstrating, by various examples and story-telling, that, in spite of the passage of time, this is, indeed, still true.
There's no doubt that Lyman has the physical and verbal agility to keep the audience engaged, even interacting with them directly from time to time. And anyone who knows anything about relationships would definitely recognize themselves or their partners in much of the show's material. But the show doesn't evolve and, just because it is so generic and all-encompassing, in the final analysis, there really isn't anything new or revelatory here. The issues are familiar and the humor predictable, because the subject matter is dealt with in a superficial, comedy routine kind of way. For instance, after an argument, the woman wants to talk about what happened and why; the man just wants to forgive, forget and go and watch television.
It's worth noting that much has changed in the 20 odd years since the show first opened. Technology has transformed virtually everything, including relationships, which now include previously unknown forms of communication - online dating, texting, emailing, facebook. . . So, if DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN seems more like a nostalgic look at times past, than an accurate portrayal of how people relate today, perhaps that's not so surprising. At the same time, it's also true that some things never change and it's those basics that people can still relate to, that kept the laughter coming.
photo courtesy of Michael Brosilow