Men are from Mars – Women are from Venus LIVE! arrives in Chicago well-timed after the Valentine’s holiday to shed some light on our relationships. Based on the best-selling book by John Gray, Men are from Mars Women are from Venus, the show attempts to dole out relationship advice on the premise that men and women come from different planets and thus have different needs and desires. Amadeo Fusca stars and excels in this one-man show that’s part Dr. Phil, part Ellen DeGeneres, and part your-drunken-friend-telling-stories-of-his wife. Fusca carries the weight of everyone’s attention with grace as he does just enough to retain the attention of the crowd without exaggerating his time in the spotlight.
Not knowing what to expect from a one-man show on relationships, I was pleasantly surprised by Fusca and his take on the daily plight of understanding your better half. His physical comedy was well-received by the crowd, with most audience members chuckling at the tales of lazy wing-eating men on Football Sundays, and anxious women strung out since they have nothing to wear. In fact, since we were among the youngest in the crowd, it seemed the majority of the space was married couples…meaning a lot of head nods and various renditions of “you can say that again” echoing around the room. The script adaptation by Eric Coble was creative and witty, especially drawing the crowd in with Chicago specific call-outs. Realistically, if you call out Pequod’s you probably already won me over. With the exception of a couple of video interludes featuring John Gray, Fusca takes center stage and embodies the principles of the book.
Men are from Mars – Women are from Venus LIVE! proved to be an enjoyable night out, with of course a small caveat. While Fusca does a terrific job at depicting John Gray’s rhetoric, I couldn’t help but think that the actual content of the show was outdated and not entirely relevant. Gray and his book depict relationships as a marriage between an overly emotional woman and an oblivious beer-chugging man. Although the audience did seem to resonate with this simplistic portrayal of a relationship, the overgeneralization of what a relationship is made up of ultimately hurt the credibility of the show. Not to mention that not all successful relationships are defined by marriage, but the subject matter also excludes same-sex couples, or any of the real fears and problems faced in today’s world. Point being, not sure if I would recommend this play as part of an exciting night out if you don’t feel represented by John Gray’s idea of a relationship.
Overall, I had a great time… who doesn’t love a little self-deprecating humor and an opportunity to make fun of their other half?
Men are from Mars – Women are from Venus LIVE! is at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E Chestnut, for a limited three-week engagement through March 5. Buy tickets here.