BWW Reviews: THE UNDERPANTS at 2nd Story Theatre

In 2002, Steve Martin adapted Carl Sternheim’s 1910 German farce Die Hose into The Underpants, which, under Ed Shea’s direction, is being produced at 2nd Story Theater in Warren, RI.

How many seconds does it take for grown men to lose their minds?  According to Sternheim: two seconds.

Poor, dear, Louise (Rachel Morris) was trying to get a glimpse of the King as he passed in a parade when a loose knot and gravity conspired to drop her undergarments to the ground.  In a single, lightning swoop, Louise scooped up the panties and tucked them under her arm.  The whole incident, she says, took two seconds. 

Louise’s nebbish civil servant husband, Theo (F. William Oakes), fears that the middling life he has carefully cultivated is in jeopardy because of the scandal.

Later that same day, two men show up separately to inquire about the room that the couple has for rent. It seems that a freshly pressed garment of white cotton around a lady’s ankles is much more effective advertising than a sign that had been in the window for weeks. Theo, who cannot see desire due to his fixation on deutsche marks, invites both men into their home. After a year of marriage to her humdrum husband, Louise is not unhappy to have the attention of two suitors. 

Versati (Dillion Medina) is a starry-eyed poet who is certain that Louise is the muse he has been seeking. To Louise’s disappointment, Versati is more interested in writing about making love to Louise than actually making love to Louise.

Cohen (JoNathan Jacobs), a hypochondriac barber, is the second of the suitors/boarders that is sniffing around.  In different circumstances, Louise might respond to his inelegant advances, but she longs to be swept away by Versati.

In this production, William Oakes is nearly a walking sight-gag in the role of the befuddled, clueless Theo.

Rachel Morris gives a fine performance as a young woman whose sensuality is awakening. Director Ed Shea has made sure that there is absolutely no chemistry between the two performers/characters, which adds to the humor.

Dillion Medina and JoNathan Jacobs are each as relaxed and comfortable as I have seen them on stage. Both give fine, funny, performances.

Paula Faber gives a delightful performance as, Gertrude, the nosy neighbor. Vince Petronio is perfect in his small cameo.

The laughs come easy in this bawdy comedy. The story is simple and fast-paced, the comedy is broad and naughty, and the characters are well-formed.  With apologies to Mr. Sternheim, The Underpants is instantly recognizable as Steve Martin’s work. 


The Underpants runs through May 30 at 2nd Story Theater in Warren, RI.  Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Box Office which is located at 28 Market Street. by call (401) 247-4200 or visiting

Photo:  Rachel Morris (center), Dillon Medina, (left) and Paula Faber (right)

Photo Credit:  Richard W. Dionne, courtesy of 2nd Story Theatre


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From This Author Randy Rice

Randy Rice currently resides in Providence, RI with his husband Aron. His love affair with live performance began in 1988 when he saw Sammy Davis (read more...)

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