REVIEW: MEN ARE FROM MARS LIVE!

at the Denver Center

by Owen Niland

Amadeo Fusca is a charmer.  As the ‘one man’ in DCPA Cabaret’s current one-man production of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, Fusca holds the audience in his hands.  A natural story teller, Fusca pulled me into what seemed to be very honest, personable and relatable stories of his and his wife’s courtship and the trials they face in married life.  A seasoned comic, he draws us in, disarms us with relatable banter (“Hey Denver, how ‘bout those Broncos?!?! AMIRITE!!), generally delivers an evening full of solid laughs without much obvious effort, and I’m sure DCPA has a hit on their hands.

The challenge with MAFM,WAFV is that the source material is dated.  Although the show is ostensibly a one-man gig, there is a second man we hear from via video: the source’s author, pop-psychologist John Gray, Ph.D.  MAFM,WAFV, the novel, hit shelves in 1992 and was an instant sensation propelling Gray into the culture at breakneck speed.  With easily digestible cocktail party ready quotes like “we are unique individuals with unique experiences” and “men feel cherished when they are needed, women feel cherished when they are loved”, the novel and pop-culture references to it became almost as ubiquitous as “the Rachel” haircut would a few years later.  But just like the Rachel you were so proud of freshman year, you’re a little embarrassed when you look back at MAFM,WAFV 25 years later.

The biggest challenge to a 2017 viewer of a play based on this material is that we’re looking for a second voice – the “Venus” voice if you will.  Where is Amadeo’s wife’s point of view in all of this?  Was his stumbling attempt to woo her with two cords on a six-string as charming as he recounts, or was she merely amused by his antics and humoring him?

Throughout the play I yearned for that dissenting voice (and of Mr. Gray’s work, those voices are legion), a XX chromosome retort to XY’s account of the story. Give the number of exciting female comics working around the country, it seems MAFM,WAFV misses a great opportunity for balance.

Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus plays Wednesdays to Sundays at the DCPA’s Galleria Theater through August 27th.

Tickets: https://www.denvercenter.org

Box Office: 800.641.1222’

 

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