What is it about underwear that makes the Brits want to put it front and center into their comedies? It seems to be a recurring theme in their farcical literature.
As I viewed TLT's production of "Noises Off" last evening, I noticed that the underwear count was quite high. A character named Brooke spends a good part of the show running about in nothing but her corset and panties. Before the show began, I jokingly referred to her as "Underwear Girl." Ahhhh...little did I know.
There is also Underwear Boy. He's a wimpy fellow named Fredrick, who is the guy-who-drops-his-pants character that seems to be a required part of all self-respecting British farces.
Then, to my surprise, a couple of bonus underwear folks showed up in the story. Selsdon the bumbling burglar flashed his boxers underneath his open bathrobe in Act 1. And poor Poppy suffered a minor strip-down when it looked as though she would be needed on stage in Brooke's place.
Fortunately for all actors (and audience) involved, these underwear models were, shall we say, in good health, and had nothing to be ashamed of in showing off their bodies on stage. Lucky them.
I, for one, am elated that I am never cast in such parts as these. As I see it, there is definite comic potential in seeing a middle aged woman skipping around in her control top panties and shapewear. Just don't offer me that role.
One of my plus-sized friends once compared her body to a situation comedy. I compare my body more to a Shakespearean tragedy. In other words, I have no sense of humor about my shape.
Thankfully, there are actors who can view their bodies less seriously. In this genre of theatre, the British farce, a successful production needs very talented performers with razor sharp comic timing, excellent physical skills and personalities that don't mind exhibiting their skivvies.
For this, I can rejoice. If they're willing to do the dirty work in their undies, then I will never be called upon to do it myself.
So, if you're an actor who desires to do farce, keep this in mind. Stay in good health, keep your weight within a healthy range and lose some of your excess modesty. You never know when you and your BVDs will be pressed into service.
Photo courtesy of Brynne Garman