Robert Dubac first put "The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?" on a Denver stage in 1995. This was the decade in which we would learn the shocking truth that men and women were from Mars and Venus -- that they talked, walked and thought differently. Pop culture couldn't get enough of this. From "Defending the Caveman" to "Red Green" to "What Women Want," the public feasted on this cathartic release. Yes, my friends, it's OK to be quirky and distinct. That's right, let it out, laugh! Now the healing can start.
Dubac has returned to the Twin Cities for the third time with this solo show, opening the Hennepin Theatre Trust's New Century Theatre in downtown Minneapolis.
He remains a sharp and engaging performer, but some of his character shtick feels sooooo '90s.
He starts with the idea that his character, Bobby, has been given the boot by his girlfriend. In his quest to figure out why this happened, Bobby rummages through book titles that were once white hot but now can be found on giveaway tables. Finding no help in the self-help volumes, Bobby digs into his own mind, divided on stage between the masculine side (represented by clutter and beer) and the feminine side (a single blackboard on which to work out the answer).
Dubac's dialogue has the dead-on withering eye of a stand-up comedian and the incisive skill of a wordsmith. His writing is intelligent and clever, as he plays on the distinguishing male chromosome and asks "Y" men think the way they do.
Sorting through the different ways in which genders perceive certain words, he tells us how men consider fishing something to be done with a rod and reel, while women see it as a means to a compliment; commitment means "trust" to a woman, "being institutionalized" to a man.
It's when Dubac summons characters from Bobby's psyche that the show feels tired. "The Chauvinists" range from a Bronx goombah pretending to be a sensitive dude, to a profane military colonel to an ancient guy who is still waiting for the perfect woman. This last fella brings a smile, but the others, not so much.
The New Century Theatre is part of the Theatre Trust's admirable efforts to reclaim space in the City Center. It is simple and clean, best suited for casual entertainment such as Dubac's play. This is a deceptively big room and the sound, even though Dubac is amplified, feels swallowed up in the acoustics.
Dubac's show is what it is -- a well-written riff on familiar fare.
If you feel there is still meat on that comedy bone, Dubac serves it up well done. If the topic strikes you as stale pizza, don't bother.