'The Male Intellect': A funny look at a guy with gender angst

Robert Dubac plays all the onstage roles in the show, drawing heavily from the one-liner dynamic of stand-up comedy.
Robert Dubac plays all the onstage roles in the show, drawing heavily from the one-liner dynamic of stand-up comedy. (TERRY SHAPIRO)
Posted: July 15, 2011

The war between the sexes is an ancient theme, but the battle keeps going on - at least in the minds of theater artists, who mine it in plots and subplots. In the case of Robert Dubac, an altogether charming guy who is holding forth this month at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, it's a one-act, one-man exploration.

He calls the show The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?, and on the way to the theater I thought, nuts, are we going to be getting into more gender bashing, this time against guys, by a guy? But Dubac's show is not like that at all. It's a funny look at one particular guy who represents the angst and paradoxes in men and women alike.

It has a plot, of sorts, although Dubac draws heavily from the one-liner dynamic of stand-up comedy to express his thoughts. He nicely plays all the show's onstage roles, and the thoughts that hit him from the right, or feminine, side of his brain come from offstage, in the voice of his real-life wife, Lauren Sinclair.

We find Dubac on a stage messed with discarded and presumably dirty clothes and a blackboard on which he'll make some points. His fiance, he tells us, walked out on him two weeks ago after he told her he did not want to share their bed with her cat. She's about to call him in 90 minutes, their first conversation since then, and he's spent the last two weeks trying to figure out what went wrong.

And what was that? Well, he's not sure, and not sure what to say when and if she calls. But it probably has to do with what women want and what men can offer - a notion that takes him into a clever survey of what all that might be. If this sounds like grist for sweeping generalizations, it is, and in Dubac's skillful scripting and delivery, you buy into the fact that guys will always pass gas in church and women will always lie and call it changing their minds.

When I write this, it looks awful, and you would think such a show offers lots of groans and little insight. Yet Dubac, a tall, lean presence with a long, emotive face and an easy smile, weaves it together into cogent theories, and has much fun doing so. By the end, you feel you've made a friend.

He illustrates his points through five other characters: a smug colonel, a street-smart Bronx tough, a womanizer, a French pal studying philosophy, and a man happy in his retirement home. By the time, late into the show, he's riffing on death and laughter - at once - it's all making sense, and you realize that Dubac's notions are so universally American, you're laughing at yourself.

The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?

Through July 31 at Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Ave., Ambler. Tickets: $27-$33. 215-654-0200 or www.act2.org.

Contact staff writer Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, hshapiro@phillynews.com, or at #philastage on Twitter. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/howardshapiro.

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