nytheatre.com review by Jo Ann Rosen
October 7, 2006
Playwrights Paul Meade and David Parnell give a clear depiction of the world's worst houseguest in their comedy Trousers, now playing at the 33-seat theater at 59E59. Although weightless, Trousers offers a delightful, uninterrupted 80 minutes of professional theatre.
The story begins when Mick drops in on Dermot in his Dublin bachelor pad. Dermot, a postal worker who moonlights as a DJ, is a bit surprised. Except for one recent encounter at a party, he hasn't seen Mick since college 17 years ago, when they spent an amazing summer together in New York City—a holiday which ended badly. Dermot is cautious, and after he reluctantly offers Mick a cup of tea, it is clear why. Barely into a sip, Mick reveals that his girlfriend threw him out, he lost his job, and he hasn't a euro—or an extra pair of trousers—to his name. Just as quickly he moves all his gear—including a canoe—into Dermot's small apartment. What follows is a fairly predictable series of incidents, but they are performed with precision and polish, making the evening thoroughly enjoyable.
As Dermot, Gary Gregg shows enough generosity to make you wonder why his character is wasting all his forbearance as a postal worker rather than at a nonprofit social service agency. But, it is understandable why Daniel Freedom Stewart's Mick feels free to feed off this culpable soul. Stewart makes his character irresistibly affable and innocently manipulative in his repeated requests for money and feeble attempts at finding work. He is a 40-year-old Peter Pan who has not yet come to terms with responsibility. So, a month of impositions quickly passes, which includes flashbacks to their summer in New York. The flashbacks reveal a carefree lifestyle and, ultimately, Mick's huge indiscretion. Throughout, the chemistry between the two is seamless, never more so than when they break into tuneless song reminiscing about the good old days.
Meade directs the splendid performances by Gregg and Stewart. Meade pushes the story forward with rhythm and pace, and, but for a couple of places at the end where he rushes the pauses, elicits laughs throughout. The action alternates between Dublin and New York without curtain or set change. Lex Liang's artful scenic devices make this possible. Liang reflects Dermot's hobby by ingeniously stacking records, videos, and CDs on three overlapping bookshelves to make up the backdrop of the tiny stage. James Bedell's clever lighting illuminates it so that it resembles a New York City skyline. It is simultaneously clear and subtle. Elizabeth Flauto's costumes work beautifully, and the trousers of the title are appropriately distinctive—more for the multiple appearances they make than as the title of the play. Records and songs crop up regularly and Zachary Williamson's sound design seems just right.
Trousers will not go down in history as a classic. But, it is more than a trifle. Credit goes to all the professionals involved.