Posted by: | Posted on: January 22, 2017

Straight White Men – Steppenwolf Theatre

One of the most powerful questions a person can ask has only two letters…“IF.” This question is what our director and playwright Young Jean Lee wants us to probe within our minds. If I woke up tomorrow as a straight white man, what would I Do? Well, the play entitled “Straight White Men” solicits us to indulge the concept.

The play is centered around Ed, (played by Alan Wilder) a widower who assembles his three sons Jake (Madison Dirks), Drew (Ryan Hallahan) and Mike (Brain Slate) together for Christmas. They start off doing the usual things brothers and men do like trash talking, laughing and of course eating a very nontraditional meal without the holiday finesse of women; Chinese food. Things seem fine until one of the brothers releases an emotion that was perplexing and changed the entire dynamics of this lovely and somewhat lackluster reunion. As they continued, they tried to avoid this unknown issue in the room, however; the tension and the feeling of uncomfortableness invaded their tranquility which causes questions with speculative answers to flung within the air as they seek to discover a plausible outcome.

And that small, yet important two letter word question “IF;” is now contorting within the minds of the audience.

I must admit I was a little lost at the beginning of Straight White Men and I couldn’t understand why I was looking at these three brothers and their father, sat around the house doing silly and injudicious things. It seems trivial at first but the more I listened, the more I started to see the unfolding back story. Something seemed wrong with one of the brothers. He was well educated and had chances to become very successful and prosperous but he seems aloof. Was he really troubled or was he okay and the others were actually experiencing a life crisis of living within the mold of the white man and what society expects from men that are born white?

Privilege is a word mentioned to be synonymous with being a white male. I knew about the privileges white men received and as an African American male, I have experienced the disadvantages of not being a man that is white. This play candidly speaks about these privileges and how it can affect not only minorities but white men too!

I found myself seeing the plight of a white man that is forced into a mold of success just because he is white and the downfall this white male receives if he doesn’t meet this prototypical success module.

Straight White Men attempts to reveal some of these issues and phobias forced on white men was unpredictably interesting and caused a series of thought provoking comments after the play around the issue of was the brother that had the emotional break troubled by his current unfortunate situation or was he actually freeing himself from falling into what society dictates he becomes.
Although I felt Straight White Men did move a little slow in parts, I did enjoy the overall message and the surprise ending. If you like plays that will make you laugh and really think about life, you will leave Straight White Men delightfully content.

The play runs until March 19th and tickets can be purchased by contacting Steppenwolf Theater at 312-335-1650.

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