“Straight White Men” by Young Jean Lee and directed by Mark Lamos opens with a pre-show by two glittering personages who are definitely not straight white men. Akiko Akita and Ashton Muniz proudly announce their non-binary status and, accompanying loud aggressive music, put the quartet of characters in their places. Westport Country Playhouse will offer this production until Sunday, June 5, as it explores the question of privilege enjoyed and exploited by straight white men.
On Christmas Eve, Ed (Richard Kline) invites his sons Jake (Bill Army), a divorced banker, and Drew (Nick Westrate), an author and teacher, to join him and his eldest son Matt (Denver Milord) in their ancestral home. As they bond over Chinese food, eaten out of the cartons, and decorate the tree that comes in a three part assembly, the brothers take to childish pranks guaranteed to irritate, perform wild dance moves, and play their deceased mother’s version of Monopoly, now called Privilege.
When the silly songs, rambunctious horseplay and smelly socks stop, the boys focus their attention on the oldest brother Matt who was the great white hope of the family growing up. To Drew and Jake, Matt is a total failure. He is now living at home, performing a mediocre job, with no prospects or desire to change. Plus he began to cry over his General Tso’s chicken. He is happiest making a great pie with whipped cream or vacuuming the rec room, but these are the sum total of his ambitions.
Diagnosing Matt’s problem as depression, Drew and Jake suggest therapy and a course in self-reliance, while dad thinks he can buy his return to good health.
For tickets ($30 and up), call Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177 or 888-927-7529 or online at westportplayhouse.org/straightwhitemen Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m.and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. You must show proof of vaccination and wear a mask.
Playwright Young Jean Lee describes her play as a response to the question, “If I woke up tomorrow and I was a straight white man, what would I do?” Come to Westport Country Playhouse and find out.