The Underpants

Written by Carl Sternheim
Adapted by Steve Martin
Directed by Neil Armfield

  • Venue Upstairs Theatre
  • Dates 06 Mar – 20 Apr 2003

    Louise is at a street parade for the Kaiser when her underpants fall off. She is pretty sure no-one notices but within hours the rumours are all over Dusseldorf and her bullet-headed husband fears for his precious nine-to-five position as a tiny cog in the loud, clanky machine of pre-war German bureaucracy. Forced to sub-divide his modest flat, he is pleasantly surprised by the number of keen, male, would-be boarders lining up to apply. The cruelly neglected Louise is suddenly a star. Her buried desires are awakened. Things rapidly get out of hand.

    Suffering from poor translation for years, Jewish satirist Carl Sternheim’s classic 1911 farce has finally found its ideal champion in Steve Martin, whose free and contemporary adaptation combines sparkling wordplay with the kind of laugh-out-loud one-liners of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. And as in that much loved piece (workshopped and premiered by Company B and Playbox), intelligence and stupidity go hand in hand.

    Sternheim’s attacks on the comfortable and relaxed classes were banned for endangering public morality long before the Nazis attempted to totally obliterate his memory.


    Written by Carl Sternheim
    Adapted by Steve Martin
    Directed by Neil Armfield
    Design Stephen Curtis
    Lighting Design Damien Cooper
    Composer Alan John
    Sound Design Paul Charlier
    Assistant Director Julian Louis


    Paul Blackwell
    Russell Dykstra
    Rebecca Massey
    Arky Michael
    Keith Robinson
    Lucy Taylor

    Production images by Heidrun Lohr


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