When comedian Steve Martin decided to adapt the play “The Underpants,” he said it was because the plot was so simple.

“You have a woman whose underpants fall down in public, and then two guys come in who both saw her, and both want her because of it,” he told the New York Times in 2002 when the play opened off Broadway. “I just liked that.”

“The Underpants” is being read Thursday-Sunday at the Castellani Art Museum, surrounded by a special exhibit featured for the performance.

The play debuted in Germany in 1911 and a critic at the time said the play was “at one and the same time like water vapor and a red-hot iron.”

“The Underpants” is about infidelity, but in Martin’s rewrite it’s also about gender politics and instant, brief fame.

In Martin’s rewrite, the incident occurs at the King’s parade when a lovely young wife’s undergarments fall to the ground. Her overweight, Bourgeoisie husband is enraged by her indiscretion, while she tries to defend herself as demure.

In the script, their battle unfolds as such:

“I don’t promote myself,” Louise tells her husband.

“You don’t have to,” he says. “Flesh speaks to men from under coats, under furs, from igloos. There’s always a small voice calling: I am here.”

“The Underpants,” will be read by eight of the university’s theater students, in a special sculpture exhibit at the Castellani Art Museum on the university campus.

The exhibit has been created from the sculptural works of Spanish artist Enrique Grau.

“These are very dignified sculptures of women,” said Susan Clements, a spokesperson for the Gallery. In keeping with the comedic theme of the play, she added with a laugh, “But there is definitely some underwear showing.”

The show’s director is Amanda Lytle Sharpe, an adjunct professor at Niagara University and a graduate of Lewiston-Porter High School.

Cast members of “The Underpants” include the following theater studies students: Will Hicks of Ithaca; Paige Mingus of Williamsville; Courtney Weather of Rochester; Ross Donatelli of Farmington; Kurt Erb of Williamsville; Eric Madia of Grand Island; Leo DiBello of Fairport; and Elexa Kopty of Buffalo. Stage manager is Maria Nicole Held of Lancaster. Assistant stage manager is Annise N. Celano of Amherst.


WHO: Niagara University

WHAT: A reading of “The Underpants,” adapted by comedian Steve Martin.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $7.

WHERE: The Castellani Art Museum on the NU campus, with a featured sculpture exhibit.

CONTACT: 286-8685 or buy tickets online at niagara.edu/theatre.