Back in 1992, relationship counselor John Gray published Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, a guide to understanding why we don’t always understand one another. While some critics found its pop psychology metaphors a bit gimmicky, the book was a huge hit and the work has lived on, not only in subsequent printings, but also in a popular stage adaptation. The show, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Live!” comes to the Broadway Playhouse Feb. 14 (what better date?).
Subtitled A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships, Gray’s study touched on such seemingly innate differences as a man’s need for distance and a woman’s desire for intimacy, the male determination to see things in black and white versus the feminine ability to negotiate gray areas, and the value a man puts on achievement over a woman’s appreciation of process. That might not seem like the stuff from which a fun night in the theater is spun, but the show — a one-man production that often stars a comedian — riffs lightly on Gray’s observations. “There are certain portions of the show that are geared toward making men laugh about their women and there are portions geared toward making the women laugh about their men,” says actor/funnyman Amadeo Fusca, whose credits include the Upright Citizens Brigade Maude House Sketch Comedy team Hot Bird. “But everybody laughs at themselves just as much as at each other.”
Fusca is convinced relationship dynamics have not changed that much in the years since Gray attempted to set us all straight. “I think most of the points expressed in the book are longstanding truths that would be hard for anybody to deny,” he says. “The response we receive from audiences suggests that they relate to a high percentage of the scenarios we present. We try our hardest to balance it out, representing both views as equally as possible, eventually concluding that we’re both just insane in our own loving ways.”
‘Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus Live!’
Feb. 14-March 5, Broadway Playhouse, 175 E. Chestnut. For tickets ($68), visit Broadwayinchicago.com