How can a play about pants fail to be funny? The word “pants” is funny. Big pants are funny, tiny pants are funny—and no pants at all is a riot. So Trousers, a new drama on this very subject by Dan Monaco, produced by the Straddler company—should be hilarious. Unfortunately, the piece comes up short(s).
In Trousers, two men (Marty Brown and Todd Pate) confront deep-seated sartorial woes: Their pants do not fit. One sports immensely long slacks, which flop out past his feet and stretch along the floor. The other hardly has trousers at all—he wears boxers, later producing a denim garter, which he dubs “my pants” and bashfully buttons around his thigh. They yearn for self-acceptance and rehearse a possible foray into bespoke tailoring. The apparel angst eventually turns violent—and, yes, someone gets pantsed.
I kept waiting to laugh. Maybe, I reasoned, this could be a parable about prejudice or inequality. The Straddler runs a literary magazine, and intellectual aspirations are apparent here. Monaco’s dialogue is clearly patterned on Beckett. (Endgame, which contains theater’s finest use of pants as existential allegory, is quoted in the program alongside Foucault and Levi-Strauss.) Sadly, the play is neither profound nor amusing: Trousers’ pretensions are too big for its threadbare britches.