nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
March 26, 2011
The premise of Dan Monaco's new play Trousers is simple. There are two men (helpfully billed as Second Man and Man One, in that order, in the broadsheet-styled program provided to audience members). One of them—I do not know which, I'm afraid—is dressed quite normally, except that his trousers are 15 feet long. The other is dressed similarly, except his trousers aren't evident at all: he is wearing boxer shorts and socks with garters, but nothing covers them.
There's a quote from Samuel Beckett's Endgame in the aforementioned program that suggests what sort of play this might be (i.e., absurdist, existential). Monaco's script focuses on the most literal aspects of the circumstance he's set up. In the first section of the play, the man with the very long trousers complains vigorously about his inability to find trousers that fit him (given his "proportions," he tells us, though he looks to me like a guy who'd be able to find something in exactly his size in any reasonably large department store). The other man is sympathetic and suggests some possible resolutions to the first man's problem, such as having a pair of trousers made for him by a tailor, or having the ones he owns altered to fit him better. Both ideas are eventually rejected because it costs at least 30 chickens to even enter a tailor shop.
(At this point I understood that these men are not in the same universe as me. I never figured out what universe they are supposed to be in, however. It is one, apparently, where a pair of scissors is an unknown possession for a man whose trousers are too long.)
Eventually the conversation shifts to the pressing question of why the trouserless man is not wearing trousers. He at first claims not to have any, but later he confesses that he does, and produces a pair that are too small. (At least he says the thing he produces is a pair of trousers; it didn't look like trousers to me.) The man with the 15-foot trousers gets very very angry.
These discussions fill about an hour of playing time, and consist mostly of lengthy repetitive speeches. Words and phrases are said over and over again. Words and phrases are said over and over again.
For me, Trousers, which is directed by Monaco, was tiresome and pointless. (For others it may not be either, but they'll have to speak for themselves.) I think ideas about power, or our perception of others based on how they appear, or the limitations of our imaginations might all have been touched upon, but I didn't exit with any new insights after spending time with these two unnamed, odd men. The actors are Marty Brown and Todd Pate. The true hero of the evening is Ben Philipp, the costume designer, whose creation of a pair of 15 foot long trousers (that fit the actor quite beautifully, all things considered) is pretty amazing.