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An old flame returns to Park City

At the dawn of time, men were men and women were women.

Men hunted and, upon returning from the underbrush, grunted monosyllabic responses to the bemusement and worry of their gender opposites who wept before an open flame, wailed and waited to be rescued.

Times have changed since the Stone Age. Sisters, as the song goes, are doing it for themselves. But some say the general ineptitude of the male half of the species has remained undiminished.

Comedian Rob Decker wrote the one-man show "Defending the Caveman" in the early 1990s in response to one of the questions that continues to plague modern women: Why are men such fools?

Answering that question has made "Defending the Caveman," one of the most successful one-man shows in history, says actor Michael Van Osch. The show has played in 20 different countries and has the distinction of being one of the longest running one-man shows in history.

As if bearing a torch of peace and good humor in the battle of the sexes, Van Osch has traveled the country for four years playing the role of a modern-man who describes a chance encounter with a caveman.

Watch out, ladies. The old flame has returned.

Van Osch, who performed the 90-minute "Defending the Caveman" in Park City in April, reprises the role at the Egyptian Theatre Sept. 4, 5 and 6.

The show depicts a 21st century man who sits before a Flinstones-like television on a stone couch. The man reaches back to prehistoric times to delve into the difference between men and women and, hopefully, reach a middle ground.

"In the ’90s, for sure, men were told to open up more," Van Osch explained. "It seemed like men were being asked to be more like women."

Gender roles have gotten blurred in the last 30 years, Van Osch continued, and yet the sexes still squabble. "The show really gets at some of the things women do that men don’t get and some of the things men do that women don’t get. This explains why."

"Defending the Caveman" explores the behavioral and social sciences and received favorable reviews from men and women who saw the show during its first run in the spring.

Theater patron Maura Robbins attended the show with her husband and recommended the show for couples. "It was very funny," she said. "I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a great thing to do with your spouse or partner."

Robbins had the added delight of sitting near Van Osch’s wife during the show. "My wife has seen the show a zillion times," he said. "It’s a comedy and it’s a fun time, but it’s also pretty interesting. It’s easier for me to take some of the issues to heart because I’m always on stage talking about them."

Some say the show has gained renewed cultural cache since the announcement of Alaska governor Sarah Palin to the Republican presidential ticket and the glass-ceiling shattering success of New York senator Hillary Rodam Clinton. "A combination of a man and woman on one ticket is probably a good thing," Van Osch said. "To have both men and women attacking the country’s problems from different perspectives, it might shed a little light on them."

Frequently, Van Osch says, he sees couples in the audience that seem distant from each other. " the end of the show, they’re walking out of the theater holding hands and laughing," he said. "I get women who come up to me and say, ‘Thank you. Now I understand.’"

If you go

What: "Defending the Caveman"

When: Sept. 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m.

Where: Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main Street, Park City

Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes including one 15-minute intermission

Ticket Prices: Theatre Seating: $34.50 Cabaret Tables: $44.50

Buy tickets at http://www.ParkCityShows.com or call the box office at 435-649-9371


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