La Boite Theatre
Thursday July 28
Walking into the theatre, loud music pumping at levels high enough to burst ones ear drums a beige set awaits, minimalistic yet clearly the setting is a family lounge room, the furniture one would expect to find in any typical house hold. Its Christmas time and a family of four men are home to celebrate the festive season with cheap Chinese take out and bagels.
Straight White Men is more of a theory, an existential crisis if you will that examines what it is to be a privileged white male. The central characters Matt (Hugh Parker) Jake (Chris Pitman) Ed ( Roger Newcombe) and Drew ( Lucas Stibard) represent the archetypical white men that most of us will encounter throughout society. A father and his three sons -arrogant BWM driving Jake, the brilliant yet under achieving Matt and the immature yet problem solving Drew are characters that exist merely to present ideas of how it would be to live with the crisis of being a privileged white male.
Thrown in as a sort of comedic relief is a sex-pot Asian woman dubbed only as ‘The Stage Hand’ (Merlynne Tong) to break things up , the anti-stereotypical eye candy appears just as things start to get heavy going and reminds us that this is in fact a play and not a debate about what kind of role straight white men should be playing in todays changing face of society. Without her intervention at times the play may have gotten a little stale, as she does manage to steal the show with some rather evocative dancing and light-hearted comedy.
As a woman it is quite the challenge to connect to the characters and be able to identify with them. To find any empathy or pathos for them is simply impossible when society views you as ‘just a girl’ lacking any of the privileges that white males seem to grow accustomed to as a birth right. To be able to understand the existential crisis Matt faces is difficult to examine as achievements when you are a woman are always over shadowed by your sexuality and gender. It is quite possible that these themes presented are very real, however you may just need to be a man to be able to truly feel any connection with them. The appeal here is that you get to see it from the other side of the fence for a little bit, which whilst not creating empathy at least gives some insights that possibly women would not examine on a regular basis.
The dialogue and interaction between the characters is timed and choreographed well and the play is at times quite funny. Being that the themes are somewhat Universal the American accents could have been discarded as at times they were a little unrealistic and somewhat annoying. Overall its quite a thought-provoking piece of theatre that is inevitably a conversation starter. When a play is able to start a conversation on an intellectual level it can be dubbed a success. It leaves us with more than mere entertainment but also the delight of being able to open a dialogue with our peers about the themes presented.
The pleasurable thing about La Boite is they always manage to showcase material that makes us think and walk away with just a little more to talk about.