Playwrights are continually looking for the perfect setting to display the emotions we experience throughout our every day lives. Eric Robertson has set out to do exactly this, and in so doing, found a most unusual, yet incredible location—the gym.
In his program notes for his new comedy, Gym Shorts: The Show, Robertson speaks of the unavoidable presence of the gym in all of our lives. In his words, “Maybe you don’t think about the gym at all. But you’ll still pass 5 or 6 of ’em on your way to work, or see ads every 5 minutes on TV!” By using this common setting in five short plays, Robertson addresses heavy hitting issues such as love, divorce, infidelity, and sexuality.
With a talented cast of ten men and one woman, Robertson has ingeniously crafted a comedy that is much more than meets the eye. Comedy without substance can fall flat. So, Robertson set out to make plays that are funny, yet poignant, full of witty banter and real emotions. By looking at the macho relationships of men in the setting of the gym, we are invited to laugh at our own lives.
In The Spot, one gym partner confronts the other for betraying his trust by working out with a new gym buddy while he was injured. In The Toughest Thing, Shane makes a most shocking “coming out announcement” to his personal trainer and gym owner. The Solo Flex uncovers a huge secret, as one gym rat’s obsession with workout videos is accidently discovered by his buddy. In Resistance Training, Craig learns his personal trainer will be replaced by a new one, turning his world upside down—he rebels and lashes out as he fights to discover if it is possible to accept another trainer into his life while remaining true to his first. The last play, The Cool Down, deals with seventeen-year-old Brad’s first time working out with an experienced partner. Shame, guilt, excitement, and a slew of emotions are unearthed making me think about my first time at the gym.
Each of Robertson’s vignettes is crafted well enough to be stand alone plays, but he has found a gentle arc that connects them all. Robertson’s unique and comedic mastery combine to make a piece that can be as meaningful or as silly as the beholder would have. These Gym Shorts definitely don’t stink.