Theatre

Thursday, 16 February 2017 21:39

Review: Straight White Men at Steppenwolf Featured

Written by

With a title like "Straight White Men" there's a lot to unpack. Asian American playwright Young Jean Lee directs her 2014 play at The Steppenwolf. "Straight White Men" ran Off-Broadway at the Public Theater to critical acclaim. It helped establish the career of up-and-comer Young Jean Lee. This production is a Midwestern debut. 

 

The Steppenwolf's production is well cast. "Straight White Men" tells the story of a family of three brothers assembling with their aging father for Christmas. Hence the title. Madison Dirks plays the oldest brother Jake with a commanding intensity that serves to propel Lee's script. So much of Lee's play relies on an almost impossible sense of chemistry between the brothers. Ryan Hallahan plays youngest brother Drew with a contrasting sincerity that puts Brian Slaten (Matt) in the center of the 90-minute play. Ensemble member Alan Wilder as the dad is maybe the only one whose performance is not in on Lee's comic pattern. 

 

"Straight White Men" does touch on many issues regarding race, gender and class in America. That said, perhaps not enough to warrant such a heavy title. There is a lot of humor and physical comedy between the brother characters, but so often the content of the dialogue doesn't reach further than the three walls of the set. The conclusion of the play is thought provoking and addresses the issue of socioeconomic privilege. 

 

The problem with titling a play "Straight White Men" is that it raises the stakes for the playwright to deliver a work that makes a bold statement. Lee certainly does make a bold statement, it just may not live up to the title. Lee's script takes a while getting to the center of the matter. It's really a play about depression. In that regard, Lee really says something about the way student loans and societal expectations are stunting an entire generation. "Straight White Men" is a play to see as it will warrant a thoughtful post show discussion. 

 

Through March 19 at Steppenwolf Theatre. 1650 N Halsted St. 312-335-1650 www.Steppenwolf.org

*Update - Extended through March 26th

 

Last modified on Thursday, 23 March 2017 00:44

 

10 Years! Fave Issue Covers

 

Register

Latest Articles

  • Things can get very quirky in The My Way Residential
    Written by
    Willa is too old to live alone in her flat and she has “accidents”. That’s why her well-meaning daughter brings her to a suburban London nursing home, “just to try it out”. Originally from Galway, Willa (convincingly played by Belinda…
  • Harvey is a theatrical confection with a warm and fuzzy heart
    Written by
    Court Theatre’s production of Harvey tells the fable of Elwood P. Dowd. Played wonderfully by Timothy Edward Kane, Dowd is an independently wealthy bachelor whose immense warmth and engaging demeanor earns him friendship readily with everyone. This includes the 6’…
  • How Josephine Baker Earned Superstardom to Become the Black Pearl
    Written by
    Josephine Baker leapt from the Harlem Renaissance via the Paris Folies Bergère to become a global phenomenon, the first black international superstar. Consider this: Baker’s fame was so great in her day among African-Americans, that Coretta King immediately appealed to…
  • First Folio Theatre Announces 2017-2018 Season
    Written by
    In its 22nd season, First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is delighted to present a chilling, humorous and thought-provoking 2017-2018 season, beginning with the World Premiere of THE MAN-BEAST, which previews October 4-6, opens October…

Guests Online

We have 160 guests and one member online

Buzz Chicago on Facebook Buzz Chicago on Twitter