THEATRE – Straight While Men – The Space – 4K

Chris Pitman, Lucas Stibbard, Hugh Parker in Straight White Men ©Kate Pardey

Chris Pitman, Lucas Stibbard, Hugh Parker in Straight White Men ©Kate Pardey

By Peter Maddern

In this play, acclaimed New York writer Young Jean Lee asks her audience ‘what should straight white men do in a world that rewards diversity?’ In the present world of straight white men rebellion as seen through Brexit votes and Donald Trump, it’s a very pertinent question to ask.

An American family gathers for Christmas at the well-appointed home of their recently widowed father Ed (Roger Newcombe). The sons are in their thirties, Jake (Chris Pitman) the divorced banker, Drew (Lucas Stibbard) the expert in telling everyone else how to live their lives but who is still unmarried and Matt (Hugh Parker), back living at home after failing at most things and laden with tuition debts.

The play eventually focuses on Matt and the reasons for his unhappiness but to get there Lee expertly creates a myriad of interactions that will resonate with members of white straight families in the audience – the child like rompsing, the petty jealousies and plays for supremacy amongst the siblings, the  family ‘traditions’ of Christmas, the generational gap between how careers are made and that deep undercurrent that all extended family Christmases tend to have; that once a year is more than enough for such gatherings.

It’s a sad and almost troubling tale even if the play’s resolution probably goes too far. But getting there is often great fun with the skill of the writer very much in the ascendancy as the strain between narrative and character development is skilfully balanced and expertly played by Jelk’s team.

Kryztoff Rating  4K

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