Examining `Male Intellect'

Comedy: Robert Dubac's solo show at the Lyric tries to figure out what women want.

February 28, 2000|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,SUN THEATER CRITIC

First there was Rob Becker's "Defending the Caveman." Now there's Robert Dubac's "The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?" Why are men, and not women, taking the stage in these solo shows about the war between the sexes?

"Probably because we're a lot more confused," Dubac suggested when we caught up with him last week in the Houston airport, on his way to an engagement in Connecticut. "Intellect" makes its Baltimore debut at the Lyric Opera House for one week, beginning tomorrow.

Dubac devised "The Male Intellect" as a way to fill in between acting jobs. "I never had any idea this would have as much success as it has," he said. "It's blossomed into its own career, a little cottage industry."

Since he began performing the show six years ago, Dubac has played a total of 18 months in Chicago, a year in Denver and 10 months in Boston. "I found if I play small theaters, I could basically go on forever," he said. Word of mouth from these three cities was strong enough to encourage promoters to book him into bigger theaters, such as the Lyric.

In the show, Dubac portrays six characters -- a protagonist named Bobby and five older, but not necessarily wiser, role models who show up with answers to the perennial question: What do women want? Each of these supposed mentors, who range from to a wily French lover to a 123-year-old bachelor still searching for the ideal woman, supply part of the answer, which turns out to be a combination of honesty, communication, passion, sense of humor and sensitivity. "Obviously, I'm generalizing quite a bit, but it is comedy," Dubac said.

A former magician and comedian as well as actor, Dubac, 45, began creating "The Male Intellect" a decade ago when he was appearing on the soap opera, "Loving." However, he said his experience on the soap was of no help as background for the one-man show. That's because his character, Alex Masters, was "probably one of the more dysfunctional characters on soaps. He was the only man on soap operas not having sex."

Considerably more help has come from his five-year marriage to actress Lauren Sinclair. "I tell everyone that I wrote the show, but she explained it to me," he said.

Sinclair was traveling with him on the day of this interview, as was his Jack Russell terrier, named Russell. Russell accompanies him to most of his performances, usually hanging out in the dressing room while Dubac performs.

Russell did upstage his master on one occasion, however. "The Male Intellect" opens with Dubac standing in front of the curtain, explaining that Bobby's fiancee has just left him, though he can't imagine why. When the curtain opens, the audience sees a set that represents the inside of Bobby's brain. "The left side is his male side, the right side is his feminine side. The left is filled with pizza boxes and empty beer bottles. The right is empty. So we understand his problem," Dubac said.

"There's always a big laugh when the curtain opens up. One time in Boston, the curtain opened, and I got this `awww.' I turn around, my dog is sitting in the middle of the stage. He's a big ham. He goes to the apron of the stage, gets people to pet him." Canine intellect, apparently, is no oxymoron.

Show times at the Lyric, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. and 7: 30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15-$42.50. Call 410-481-7328.

Will Award for Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins, who stars in Julie Taymor's new movie, "Titus," will receive this year's Will Award, to be presented by Washington's Shakespeare Theatre on April 15. An Academy Award winner for "The Silence of the Lambs," the Welsh-born actor has played title roles in the Royal National Theatre's productions of "Coriolanus," "Macbeth," "King Lear" and "Antony and Cleopatra" and starred as Prospero in "The Tempest" at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

Among past recipients of the Shakespeare Theatre's Will Award, which honors contributions to classical theater in the United States, are Kenneth Branagh, Mel Gibson, Kevin Kline, Christopher Plummer, Maggie Smith and Patrick Stewart.

The black-tie gala ceremony will take place at the Embassy of the Russian Federation, 2680 Wisconsin Ave., Washington, and begins at 7 p.m. with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and dancing. Tickets are $500 each, or $6,000 and $10,000 for a table of 10, and benefit the theater's outreach and education programs. For more information call 202-547- 3230, extension 2329.

Show-biz seminars

Mike Lemon, a Philadelphia-based casting agent who has cast numerous commercials and films, including "Beloved," "Philadelphia" and "The Sixth Sense," will conduct two seminars at Doyle Formal Hall at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 4701 N. Charles St.

A seminar on "The Business of the Biz" will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and costs $50. An all-day actor-training workshop will be held from 8: 30 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 18 and costs $125. Participants should take a head shot or snapshot. Lemon is currently casting two new films, "Unbreakable" and "Finding Forrester." Proceeds from the workshops, which are being presented in association with Baltimore's Five Star Productions, will benefit the college. More information is available on the Web site fivestarproduction sinc.com or by calling 410- 764-0975.

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