Entertainment

A Caveman lurks inside every guy

BOSTON? Leaves wet towels on floor. Drinks beer rather than fine wine. Is hard to distract while watching TV. Often seems to have few words. Hates the mall. Doesn’t indulge in long sessions of gossip about friends or acquaintances. Thinks about sex constantly.These are merely some of the traits that define the so-called caveman of the 21st century, and they are usually under attack by modern women who just don’t understand how anyone could live this way.That’s precisely what prompted Robert Becker to write “Defending the Caveman,” a solo performance that left the audience cracking up at the Standford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, where the show runs through March 16.Caveman features Ontario-born actor Michael Van Osch who stands tall for all men while tactfully celebrating the difference between the sexes.For example, women arriving at a party will hug and compliment each other. Men, on the other hand, will simply nod or deliver a punch to the shoulder. Such behavior mystifies women, who presume this isn’t acceptable communication.Not so, says Osch. A punch to the shoulder is a sign of endearment. And if one guys calls another “dirt bag” and asks, “Are you still driving that shitbox?,” the moniker and reference to the car actually translate to an acknowledgement that the men are longtime friends. Women simply don’t speak the language.Take the sport of fishing, which Osch points out really isn’t a sport but a pass time that allows men to sit quietly away from the hustle and bustle of the home. As he puts it, men aren’t allowed to ask one another if they’d like to go sit on a wall by a lake and contemplate the view. But if you add fishing rods to the equation, the request is totally acceptable. They’re going fishing.While Osch spends plenty of time highlighting the differences between the sexes when it comes to house cleaning and other chores, his mastery shines brighter when the monologue turns to partying.Women cooperate. Men negotiate. That’s a major premise and it can come to the forefront over a bowl of chips. If six women are seated at a table and one exclaims that the chip bowl is running low, all six rise and head for the kitchen without skipping a beat in the conversation. Once there, they fill the bowl, get more salsa, maybe even form a conga line.Given the same scenario, men don’t move collectively. Each gives a reason why he shouldn’t be the one to get more chips, starting with the guy who either bought the chips or is hosting the party. Nobody makes a move until the lamest reason is heard, and it then becomes clear who should make the run to the kitchen. The negotiations are complete.Men and women also differ on the ride home after a party. Since women are gatherers by nature, they acquire all sorts of facts and rumors that they are eager to share in the car. Did you know that the couple hosting the party is having marital problems? That their daughter is dating an Africa witch doctor? That their mortgage is one payment from foreclosure?Hearing this, the man nods, albeit without conviction or true interest. The conflict emerges when the wife asks what information he has gathered and gets a shrug, perhaps accompanied by an answer of “not much.” This causes the wife to immediately demand to know what the men, all hunters rather than gatherers, talked about as they stood around the table saw in the garage for four hours drinking me. Again, the answer: “Not much” or “The Red Sox.”Although the differences between men and women are magnified by the performance, there’s never any sense that things should be otherwise. In fact, the magic in the show lay in its power to focus on the differences, perhaps with the belief that it will lead to greater understanding.This isn’t a show about women bashing, nor is it the flip side of “Menopause ? the Musical.” It’s a fun night out for those with the ability to laugh at themselves and for the women in the audience to appreciate the men in their lives despite

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