Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?
At the end of the opening night performance of The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? at the Act II Playhouse, the show's writer and sole performer, Robert Dubac, took questions from the audience. A woman raised her hand and asked if Dubac had performed the same show at the Society Hill Playhouse in the late 1990s. Yes, said Dubac. The woman then admitted she had seen the show back then, but hadn't realized it until after this evening's show had started.
I know how she felt. Even though I had never seen The Male Intellect before, I felt like I already had.
That's because Dubac's subject matter is awfully familiar. The show is about relationshipswhy men and women are different and why they see the world differently. According to Dubac, it all has to do with left brain thinking versus right brain thinking, and other generalities. Dubacor, to be more proper, "Bobby," the character he plays for most of the eveningis a "typical" male who proclaims "I eat like a pig, I like to get drunk, and I don't like cats." And then there's his view of women: "Women value honesty but they don't want to hear the truth about themselves"for example, whether that new pair of jeans makes them look fat.
And so on. There's not much insight here, and not much wit, either. And the show, which Dubac has been performing for fifteen years, seems stuck in the ninetiesor maybe even an earlier decade. Dubac shows off self-help books from the seventies and eighties, and he carries a big prop mobile phone that looks like the one you see on "Seinfeld" reruns. Dubac plays a few characters in addition to Bobby; one of them sounds just like a young Jack Nicholson, while another sounds like John Travolta's old Vinnie Barbarino character. And there are jokes about Rubik's Cube and Zamfir, master of the pan flute. (You don't remember Zamfir? Johnny Carson used to impersonate him. Wait, Carson retired before you started grade school? Never mind, then.)
To his credit, Dubac is a genial, jovial entertainer, and it's never unpleasant being in his presence. He's a polished performer who knows how to interact with an audience and get them on his side. (When a latecomer showed up five minutes into the show, Dubac cracked, "Didn't mean to start on time, sorry.") He makes The Male Intellect a painless, breezy ninety minutes. But none of his skill can make this clichéd material seem fresh or distinctive. The subject matter has been covered by so many other comedians for so long that The Male Intellect won't give you many surprises or change your way of thinking about the battle of the sexes. But it may give you déjà vu.
The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron? runs through July 31, 2011, at Act II Playhouse, 56 East Butler Avenue, Ambler, Pennsylvania. Ticket prices range from $20 to $33 and may be purchased by calling the box office at 215-654-0200, online at www.act2.org or in person at the box office.