Expand Your Comfort Zone–See “Straight White Men” at MTC
Be Ready to Be Uncomfortable
In this audacious and bodacious study by playwright Young Jean Lee of 3 brothers Jake (Seann Gallagher), Drew (Christian Haines), and Matt (Ryan Tasker) and their dad, Ed (James Carpenter) in being straight white men, , we can neither have our expectations met, nor our questions answered! Director Morgan Gould gave the cast broad latitude to be A-typical — inviting the audience to take off any straightjackets being worn and get down with the mocking onstage. The cast and crew get kudos and plaudits for very good work on this production of Straight White Men!
Something clearly missing in the dialogue is no mention about what happened to their Mother or what she might think of their interactions, let alone what she might think of what they’re doing (and not doing) with their lives. Where the dad thinks it is “repugnant” for Drew to be doing nothing except keeping house for his father, the mother’s influence might have shed an entirely different light on the audience understanding of Drew. And that may be just the missing link that makes this play what it is!
That said, the boyishly-childish pranks and childish reactions are realistic and hilarious (for example, the bits about smelly sox and the sweaty towel). The joke about “A Man for All Seasons” was very good – on point! The (loud music) Sound Design by Sara Huddleston is totally appropriate (some of it so appropriately annoying), and the light show (by Heather Basarab with Assistant Danny Osburn) is very effective. Throughout, the dancing, “slow mo,” and frivolity are perfect.
Mood-setting and set-changing are flawlessly designed performed by Person in Charge 1 (J Jha) and Person in Charge 2 (Arianna Evans). On the one hand, it’s distracting to see them also sitting in plain view while trying to follow the point of the various pranks, jokes, and vulgarity of the brothers. On the other, loud clapping before the show begins is a clue to wake up and get ready for stepping out of your comfort zone, and they do help us make sense out of childish nonsense. Make no mistake; however, a drama underpins this story!
The perfectly–designed set, by Scenic Designer Luciana Stecconi, is so precise, yet lush, inviting and filled with family-warmth. It sets up the audience for fun and heartfelt tenderness, as well as some heartbreaking, unanswerable questions.
From the caricature-costuming to the pajamas and every stitch in between, the Costume Designer, Fumiko Bielefeldt captured the nuances of every character and every scene.
If, at first, you’re repulsed and not entertained, stay! This very unusual play is worth your time and money.
(If you’re lucky, you’ll also have the opportunity for a Talk-Back question and answer session at a Matinee with Dramaturg Laura A. Brueckner and the Cast following the performance – you’ll likely find it fascinating and elucidating.)
By Elle Alexa Simon, Student of Flora Lynn Isaacson, SFBA Critics Circle
Straight White Men opened June 19 and will run through July 15, 2018, at MTC’s Boyer Theatre, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley 94941. Performances of this production are approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission:
Remaining Evening Performances: Tuesday through Sunday, 7:30 p.m.:
June 26 through July 14, 2018 (except July 8)
Remaining Matinees: 2:00 p.m., Sundays: July 1, 8, and 15;
Saturdays: July 7 and 14
For tickets, contact Marin Theatre Company at 415-388-5208, or purchase online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming up next at MTC:
OSLO by J.T. Rogers and Directed by Jasson Minadakis
September 27 to October 21, 2018