In 1992 John Gray, PhD, published his relationship advice book Men are from Mars Women are from Venus and it was a huge hit – the number one non-fiction bestseller of the 1990’s. According to the Wikipedia page it spawned a whole Mars/Venus book series, seminars, themed vacations, a Broadway show, TV sitcom, workout videos, apparel lines, fragrances and even his-and-hers salad dressings.
And I, clueless to the end, didn’t know about any of that. I did look up the Broadway version and learned it played for a week at the Gershwin Theater in 1997 and was a huge bomb. The failing New York Times called it “as entertaining as having blood drawn.”
Men are from Mars Women are from Venus LIVE! continues through October 14 at The Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown. 412-456-6666. www.clocabaret.com
The Wiki page doesn’t mention Men are from Mars Women are from Venus LIVE! – a later one-man show based on Gray’s book which, as adapted by Eric Coble, is really an evening of stand up where the performer riffs on the eternal “battle of the sexes” using some of Gray’s broader points to frame his act.
As far as I can tell this version began life somewhere in Europe in 2007 playing in, among other places, Paris and Amsterdam. An American producer saw it, loved it, got the rights to it and hired to Coble to write the American version which has been roaming around the States since 2013 – with a brief off-Broadway stint a few years back.
And now it’s landed in Pittsburgh on stage at the CLO Cabaret featuring former Pittsburgher Amadeo Fusca.
If you’re a fan of Gray’s book (say, for instance, you still have a cruet of the salad dressing) I figure you’ve already bought tickets, hired a sitter and can’t wait to go. And considering how many copies of the book are out there, the CLO should probably do well with this run.
For the rest of us I have to say it’s maybe not the most engaging time you’ll ever spend in a theater. This whole “Mars/Venus” thing is entombed in such a binary/hetero/cisgender mindset you feel like you’ve fallen into a time machine and flown back a couple of decades. Men watch sports, women shop. Men like quiet, women like to talk. Men swallow their feelings, women live in a state of emotional upheaval. For two hours you get a worldview which, even in 1992, was already ancient.
Fortunately Fusca is an enjoyable, charming performer who knows how to work a room. It’s his boyish, I-just-wanna-make-you-smile manner, and lithe physicality giving the evening it’s entertainment value. I have a feeling that even he doesn’t believe some the nonsense he’s spouting, and can occasionally come across as glib and a little cheesy, but when he clicks with the material and the crowd the evening passes as painlessly as possible.