Monday, January 18, 2016

Applause! Applause! Review of Ed Asner's A Man & His Prostate at The Metropolitan Room by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Ed Asner's A Man & His Prostate at The Metropolitan Room was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

A Man & His Prostate
Performed by Ed Asner
Written by Ed. Weinberger
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd Street
New York, New York 10010
Reviewed 1/16/16  

Even though Ed Asner tells the story of falling ill in Florence suffering from an enlarged prostate and bladder stones (with slides to prove it), the basis of the tale lies in the experiences of Emmy & Peabody Award-winning Ed. Weinberger, the writer responsible for this 90-minute theater piece. There was a reading of the play A Man & His Prostate on May 15, 2015 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank before family and friends, which was followed by its debut at The Malibu Playhouse ($75.00 General Admission) on July 11, 2015. It's now in New York City at The Metropolitan Room for an exclusive two-night try-out before plans to share it with audiences worldwide. While that may happen because many Ed Asner fans will gladly pay good money to see him, the play contains too many crude lines and fart jokes. In addition, since the debut in Malibu six months ago, Ed Asner has been unable or unwilling to memorize the script. He sat in front of a music stand reading his lines as if this, the play's New York debut, was just another reading. I also found it uncomfortable to hear him scream at and verbally abuse the people in his life whenever he was angry or in need. Noboby should have to put up with that. Finally, The Metropolitan Room was not the best venue for this play; a piano blocked the view of 20-30 attendees who could not even see him, and another 10-15 people were unable to view the slides, myself included. There isn't even a mirror on the back wall where those people could see him by reflection.

Ed Asner appeared on stage 20 minutes late wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers cap, a Hawaiian shirt, blue shorts, and black athletic shoes. He then sat there for another five minutes in silence blowing his nose, placing his cane on a bench, turning his cap backward and adjusting himself as needed. I think he thought it was funny to just sit there, but since he started the show late, I just found it annoying. He finally started off with a joke about a German, an Irishman, and a Jew. The German says, "I'm tired. I'm thirsty. I must have beer." The Irishman says, "I'm tired. I'm thirsty. I must have whiskey." Finally, the Jew says, "I'm tired. I'm thirsty. I must have diabetes." The humor in that joke relies on the stereotype that older Jews are hypochondriacs. He explains this is "a play about life and death" but that "the death part is just rhetorical...(then looking at his watch) least for now!" Apparently, his character (whose name we never learn) was on a cruise ship docked in Florence. He collapsed alone (his wife remained on board due to the fact it was Margarita Monday and she had taken ill herself by eating too many fish tacos) and was admitted to an Italian hospital. He said he was taken there in an ambulance with sirens that "sounded like they were coming for Anne Frank" (Wrong country, of course, but why let that stop a potentially offensive joke). He arrived at the hospital and, in the best skit of the night, he hilariously explained to the doctor using pantomime how he was getting up to pee 9 times a night but that today, he was unable to pee at all. After that, he was directed to a hospital room where he looked up and saw "a crucifix of Jesus 'on his worst day' with his head hanging to one side as if to say 'and you think you have problems'."

It turns out he had seven bladder stones and an enlarged prostate but no cancer. He railed against his American doctors "who never once stuck a finger up my ass" even though he was peeing forty times a day. (He urinated so frequently, he even "stopped pulling his zipper back up"). He speculated that doctors have stopped doing rectal exams because of the "yuck" factor or because they are embarrassed. As he said, "that's the medical profession for you. It took them 500 fucking years for them to learn they should wash their fucking hands before treating a patient." On the up side, A Man & His Prostate does come with the educational message that men should get their prostate checked more often, and one slide even listed many well-known men who have died of prostate cancer. 

His biggest concern about having the operation to remove the bladder stones and trim his prostate was the effect it would have on his future ability to have intercourse with his wife. His Italian doctors explained he should be able to maintain erections after one week, but that there would be no visible ejaculations. His sperm will travel backward instead of out. He was worried about how he "would know when sex was over" and always thought of his ejaculations as constituting his "big finish." Concerned that "the difference between an erect and semi-erect penis is the difference between eating a cheeseburger and licking one," he tried watching pornography but it only depressed him further because the camera "added six inches" to all the male performers. His wife finally caught up with him and slipped into his bed (hoping she had the right room). By morning, he said, "the sun was coming up and so, my God was I!". He explained to his wife about how he would no longer be able to ejaculate and she said, "to be honest, that was always my least favorite part." And that was that!

The seven-time Emmy Award-winning television icon Ed Asner last appeared on the New York stage starring in the Broadway comedy Grace in 2013. Asner is one of the most honored actors in television history with 16 Emmy nominations, five Golden Globe Awards, and a 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, which he served as national president of for two terms. He is best-known for voicing Carl Fredericksen in the Pixar box office smash Up! (Best Animated Feature Oscar) and for his many widely praised television roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Lou Grant; Roots; Rich Man, Poor Man; and more recently The Good Wife; Criminal Minds; Mom; The Crazy Ones; Chasing Life; and Men At Work. He starred in the telefilms Buddy The Elf and All My Heart. For the stage, he toured the country in Franklin Delano Roosevelt for five years. 

Often playing a character who is an angry, irascible old codger, Ed Asner was a good choice for this part. When he describes his immediate catheterization as being "no gondola ride down The Grand Canal," you identify with his pain. If you see this show, you will have a good time and be glad you went. Born just after the Stock Market Crash Of 1929 during the administration of President Herbert Hoover, Ed Asner is a well-respected, hard-working, award-winning actor. When you have a chance to see him perform in person, you don't want to miss that opportunity. At 86 years of age, that watch is ticking! But be forewarned, the show is very explicit and graphic. Therefore, it is definitely not for grandmas, children, or the easily offended.

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