Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman says Goodbye in San Francisco
Rob Becker says this is his farewell tour after his show, Defending the Caveman, has entertained three million people worldwide in over twenty countries and fifteen different languages. Defending the Caveman has the distinct honor of being the longest running solo play in Broadway history. It opened at the Helen Hayes Theatre on March 26th, 1995 and earned a place in the theatrical record books after its 399th performance on July 17, 1996. Mayor Rudolph Guilliani proclaimed July 18, 1996 "Caveman Day" in New York City and renamed the city's West 44th Street "Caveman Way." The show eventually had over 700 performances before leaving Broadway to embark on a national tour.
Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman started here in San Francisco; during the years 1988-1991, the San Jose native wrote the entertaining examination of the dissimilarity between men and women and how these differences make us get the wrong idea of each other. This involved a study of anthropology, prehistory, psychology, sociology and mythology.
Defending the Caveman appeals mostly to husbands and wives in their 20s and 30s since many of Becker's insights will hit home in their relationships. Rob looks a little like John Goodman, with the beer belly to prove it. He enters the stage after an amateur silent film on the relationships of males and females in both the animal and human world. The stage has two cavemen illusions, a granite television set straight out of The Flintstones, an old beat up stuff chair, a tall wicker basket full of dirty clothes that he throws about the floor and a spear for a TV antenna. He is dressed in an old sweatshirt and jeans, and it looks like he is ready to watch a football game on television with his mates. However, his high energy personality quickly takes over.
Rob explains that, since those caveman days, the men are hunters who concentrate on their prey to the exclusion of everything else. The women are gatherers who want to gather everything into their possession. He is right on when he spots some customs from childood that separate the men from the women; the boys play "kill the person with a ball" while the girls play "house".
Becker describes some very hilarious examples of the differences between the sexes, such what happens when six men sit around the chip bowl and the chips run out. The men become "negotiators" as to who will fill the bowl. The style of greetings between best friends who have not seen each other in a very long time is also a prime example of the differences: the women will gush over each other, saying "You're my oldest and closet friend" while the men will merely say "Still driving the piece of shit?" The audience howls at these kinds of remarks.
Becker has many humorous sights about today's feminism and masculine sensitivity. An interesting fact is that women speak about 7000 words a day while the male speaks only 2000. Women gather information when talking to other women while the male has a problem just concentrating when another male is talking. Men bond by sharing long periods of silence, as with fishing, while women bond by gossiping, processing things and sharing emotional insights. In other words they "kaffeeklatsch."
Critic Deborah Bradley of The Dallas Morning News summed up his act quite simply when she said, "it's outrageous funny, Caveman explores all of the things that make men and women fight, laugh and love." Rob's facial expressions, body movements and occasionally a bass voice make him perfect for this role.
Rob Becker's Defending the Caveman played through Sunday, March 20, at the Curran Theatre, Geary Street, San Francisco.