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Defending the Caveman 

Writer Rob Becker is definitely one of the "good guys," and he's all about uniting rather than dividing.

As an observer of heterosexuality, I was recently watching Breaking Dawn and it occurred to me that while every girl in America is seeing this movie, all the boys are playing Modern Warfare 3. So I wonder not only why the 50 percent divorce rate isn't higher, but how people even meet to get married in the first place. Maybe that's why God invented malls.

This Venusian woman/Martian man conundrum is the focus of Defending the Caveman, a comedy by Rob Becker that ran on Broadway for two years and is brought to town by the Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret.

It's really a standup routine in disguise, with a solo actor stating Becker's thesis at the top -- man is a hunter and woman a gatherer -- and over the course of two very short acts plays out iterations on that idea.

What's most interesting about Becker's script is how he creates a solid middle ground and, for nearly 90 minutes, never strays from it. Sexual politics is nothing if not explosive, but Becker plays both ends against the middle. By the evening's close, the couples around me were snuggling with rather than spitting on each other.

There's not much in the way of insight, but that hardly seems to be Becker's aim; he skims over dangerous ground, stopping only for safe jokes. Which, really, isn't that bad; Becker is definitely one of the "good guys," and he's all about uniting rather than dividing.

The show's in Pittsburgh for three months, with four actors handing off the role every few weeks. When I saw it, Cody Lyman had just begun his stint. As his bio notes, he has a long history as a comedy performer -- and it's blindingly apparent when he's working the room. There's not much "acting" required here, but rather a huge call for knowing how to land a joke. Lyman could lead a master class in that technique. He's a nimble, expressive performer who adds considerably to this somewhat thin but enjoyable show.

 

DEFENDING THE CAVEMAN continues through Jan. 8. The Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. 412-456-6666 or www.clocabaret.com

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