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Straight White Men (Broadway)
Midtown W
73

Straight White Men (Broadway) NYC Reviews and Tickets

73%
(315 Reviews)
Positive
68%
Mixed
25%
Negative
7%
Members say
Great acting, Funny, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Relevant

About the Show

Obie Award winner Young Jean Lee takes her comic and ruthless look at the classic American father-son drama to Broadway, in a new production starring Armie Hammer and Josh Charles.

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Member Reviews (315)

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65
Engaging, Unclear message, Two strong actors, Overrated, Lacks depth/discipline

See it if you'll laugh at the juvenile antics of grown men. You don't need philosophy; you'll settle for a slice-of-life portrayal w/its messiness.

Don't see it if you want true insight into privilege. Lee offers little POV; issues have no resolution. A cop out. Sh we like/dislike SWM? Muddy thinking. Read more

93
Hilarious, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Choppy

See it if You want to see a very funny show that’s also tender and smart and full of good topical insights. Mostly great acting and clever staging.

Don't see it if You can’t overlook a few choppy moments that just don’t seem to flow as smoothly as real life does. Feels slightly forced to make its point.

Critic Reviews (47)

July 23rd, 2018

"Under Ms. Lee’s direction at the Public, the play was shaggier and, paradoxically, more coherent; something about this knotty material, with its complex point of view and shifting tonalities, benefits from a crude attack. In the current production, I missed the brutality of the final confrontations, which now seem to pass in a haze of tough love. That said, 'Straight White Men' is still an exceedingly odd — and thus welcome — presence on Broadway. It remains undeniably powerful."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Anna D. Shapiro’s Broadway production feels broader than the one that Lee directed at the Public in 2014, and the performances are somewhat uneven: The cocky Charles and the cryptically recessive Schneider are excellent, whereas Payne still seems to be finding his footing. Hammer, in his stage debut, leans on sincerity a bit heavily but radiates charm, which goes a long way...She may poke fun at these guys as they poke at each other, but Lee is not dismissive."
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July 23rd, 2018

"It’s nuanced, curious, and compassionate. That’s not to say it’s comfortable—Lee’s sense of mischief and her expert control of tension are still at play—but it is, in its bones, gentle...For all its clear-eyed examination of certain kinds of meanness—the most insidious of which look a lot like caring—'Straight White Men' isn’t a mean play, and that feels like one of the most important things about it right now."
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August 3rd, 2018

"'Straight White Men' is such a great title for a show that it momentarily blinds you to the fact that there’s no real script to support it...Rigged to make audience members feel hep, because they get to give a thumbs-down to some straight white men in a political climate that is increasingly critical of all three of those designations...Not only does it not exhibit any of the humor, recklessness, and passion of Lee’s previous work; it refutes those things...Shallow, soporific, and all about itself."
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July 23rd, 2018

"'Straight White Men' is great fun for much of its time, but the play falters when it attempts to explore more serious terrain. The playwright doesn't manage to convey successfully what she's trying to say about the expectations that inevitably accompany privilege...Nonetheless, the evening succeeds to a large degree thanks to the sharply funny comic writing, the impeccable direction by Shapiro and the superb performances of an ensemble who display tremendous chemistry together."
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July 23rd, 2018

"The play examines toxic masculinity and white male privilege while making you disappointed that modern men still haven’t harnessed their strength in a positive movement the way women have with feminism. The dysfunction in 'Straight White Men' is relatable...At times it feels like each is waiting his turn for the next line they need to nail, but overall the cast delivers magnetic and profound performances, sandwiching harsh truths between jokes and even some adorable dance moves."
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July 23rd, 2018

"In 'Straight White Men,' Young Jean Lee’s cutting but deeply humane satire about straight white male privilege and pain, Armie Hammer, Josh Charles and, in an especially heart-wrenching performance, Paul Schneider play three brothers with mid-life issues. In director Anna D. Shapiro’s super-smart production...The re-written version of the play seems to have extended and pumped up the fun and games from the original version."
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July 26th, 2018

"The play isn’t any good, though that won’t matter, since it fulfills the first condition of success on Broadway: It tells the members of the audience what they want to hear, and nothing else...Lee affects to sympathize with her pitiful straight white men but in fact gives the impression of regarding them with smug contempt, an impression reinforced by the inch-deep shallowness of her satirical strokes...Trails off into vagueness without ever landing any decisive hits on its putative target."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Anna D. Shapiro’s shrewd, pitch-perfect staging and the hugely charismatic cast make the whole affair both immensely pleasurable and increasingly disturbing...So the play works both as a political satire/PC PSA and also as a philosophical study of human limitations. It does both brilliantly because Lee is, in fact, one of our boldest living playwrights...For a hard, clinical look at mediocrity, 'Straight White Men' is thrillingly great."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Young Jean Lee’s delicate balance of a play, directed by Anna D. Shapiro with a more sensitive understanding of character than pace, brings together three adult brothers and their widowed dad...Too clever by half? Too clever by three? If you think so, then you, too, might have trouble figuring out exactly when and how these 40-ish brothers spent their decades-ago childhoods pondering social inequities that seem taken from today’s headlines...Other details and stage decisions nag as well."
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July 23rd, 2018

"A freewheeling and thoughtful but underwhelming family comedy...Regardless of what one may think of 'Straight White Men' and its postmodern, often puzzling trappings, it marks a major historic milestone as the first play by an Asian-American woman to be produced on Broadway...There is no character development or plot, besides a handful of guys sitting around on a couch."
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July 23rd, 2018

"But it's really not until deep in the 90-minute play that we get to the crux of the matter. Matt's lack of ambition worries his siblings. To them, straight white men aren't supposed to be aimless, and they ultimately see him as a loser. Food for thought certainly, but it's really not all that clear what Lee is trying to say with the play. It's all immeasurably enhanced by Second Stage's first class production helmed by Anna D. Shapiro."
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July 23rd, 2018

"'Straight White Men' isn't as class-blind as I initially thought. Rather, it is a hard look at the underlying assumptions of the American upper-middle class that disproportionately makes up Broadway audiences...If viewers really watch and listen, even the queerest, brownest, and femalest audience members might find they have more in common with straight white men than they would care to admit."
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July 24th, 2018

“Part of the play's cleverness was the many ways the piece could be taken...This playful new version is faster, funnier and played within a specific context with a far more focused point of view...To describe these four characters, ‘liberal; would be a good choice, although, it's their contrasting degrees of liberal thinking and actions that fuel the proceedings...The definition of success as defined by the privileged class for the privilege class, is where ‘Straight White Men’ becomes volatile.”
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July 30th, 2018

"Feels delightfully accurate, thanks to a first-rate cast and director Anna D. Shapiro's long-proven skill at handling ensembles...It offers its criticism without much bite...The play is stranded between genres. Lee is working in a largely naturalistic mode, but she doesn't seem interested enough in the characters to give them the shading or contradictory qualities that would make them seem real: They exist only to prove a point -- and that they don't do strongly enough."
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July 23rd, 2018

"A beautifully acted, richly layered production that unfolds in both familiar and surprisingly subtle ways...On the surface, it is an often funny examination of familial relationships, gender roles, and white privilege within a warm and loving family...Underneath it gently offers a perspective that may challenge your assumptions...The overall performances, the direction, and the very smart and original writing make 'Straight White Men' a sure-fire bet and a winner for Second Stage."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Nothing that will freak out a traditionally-minded Broadway show-goer, who might well become rather bored by a lack of story and strong dramatic conflict...Does not live up to its potential. The playwright’s intriguing suggestion that these guys are actually too comfortable living within their supposedly woke consciousness may be too subtly expressed for some viewers to grasp. The conclusion seems abrupt and not especially satisfying."
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July 23rd, 2018

"The whole thing has a clever, ever-so-creepy diorama effect—like we’re watching the actors in a museum, or at Epcot Center. It’s also a double-edged sword: Looking at them as if they’re merely figures on display to be studied lends an oddly thrilling anthropological angle to the production; it also, unfortunately, keeps us at arm’s length, never affording any emotional investment in the characters."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Together the actors illuminate the play with a combination of boisterousness and humor that still leaves room for the sadness simmering underneath...The play unfolds naturalistically, within a new device that feels unnecessary...'Straight White Men,' a smart, funny and affecting play that reaffirms Lee’s status as one of the most important playwrights working today, questions traditional notions of what a successful life might mean."
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August 10th, 2018

"Given how physically playful the brothers are with each other--and with their father--'Straight White Men' is that rare play that even has a credited choreographer, Faye Driscoll. In addition to making good on the promise he made in last year's 'Call Me By Your Name,' that he was an actor to be watched--and not only because he's so attractive--Armie Hammer proves especially deft with Driscoll's many maneuvers, like leaping on or off the sofa or a coffee table."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Shapiro’s direction seems effortless as the play navigates the seasonal joy that suddenly turns sour...Extraneous ornamentation notwithstanding, 'Straight White Men' is a powerful piece of theater that asks the same universal questions Matt is asking about his own identity. Three sons from the same environment have ingested the same core values in strikingly different ways. This production is like a Christmas present with too much wrapping, but once you open the box, you love what’s inside."
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July 28th, 2018

“A nostalgic entertainment in naturalistic mode...Features four terrific new straight white guys...Despite this A-Class production, and Lee's clever mix of conventional pleasant play and meta-theatrical discussion play, ‘Straight White Men’ somehow lacks a really knock-out satiric punch. And the points being made are more than vaguely familiar...The only really new thing is that it's the first ever Broadway production by an Asian-American woman."
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July 29th, 2018

"An equal-opportunity play, in that there is not enough to it to satisfy anyone. It is also a missed opportunity play...The production, directed with an air of desperation by Shapiro, stumbles and stalls its way across 90 minutes of stilted dialogue...before soft-braking to its unsatisfying conclusion...Perhaps the risk of alienating the audience would have been worth it if what came next could effectively play off the discomfort. Instead, there is a downshift and we are handed the vanilla tale."
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July 27th, 2018

“The set up is cute and surprisingly nuanced, even with the loudly annoying pre-show music blasting our ear drums...Whip smart and decidedly captivating...The cast as a whole enact the lives and loves of white men of privilege with integrity and exacting attitude. As directed with an easy playful style under the conceptual eye of Anna D. Shapiro, the family satirical drama unfolds beautifully.”
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July 30th, 2018

"Even at 90 minutes, the play feels one-note, and bloated. It contains a compelling nugget of a central idea, but struggles to express it without a great deal of wheel-spinning energy...One good insight can carry even a short play only so far...These characters are not overly complex, but Shapiro and company succeed in finding the core of what makes them tick. 'Straight White Men' finds solid intellectual ground on which to stand, but struggles to sustain absorbing drama."
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T
July 31st, 2018

“Are these entitled, judgmental, young, straight, white, successful men and their father supposed to be the epitome of Every-White-Straight-Man?...It is almost impossible to tell in this ninety-minute visit to the 'museum tryptic' entitled 'Straight White Men' the playwright has foisted upon the audience. This critic relearned more about the role of straight white men in the history of humankind from the Persons in Charge (1 and 2) than from Young Jean Lee’s exhausting script."
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August 8th, 2018

“Lee, the first Asian-American playwright to have her work produced on Broadway, doesn’t go for the jugular in her explorations of gender and racial disparity. Rather, it’s a calculated portrait...’Straight White Men’ is not a violent play, though there’s plenty of cliché roughhousing among the three adult brothers...None of us are immune to the family dynamics that Lee unpacks. In an increasingly vitriol-fueled culture, we all might benefit from a good dose of empathy."
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C
July 23rd, 2018

"Having brilliantly helmed the epitome of dysfunctional family plays, Tracy Letts's 'August: Osage County,' Anna D. Shapiro was an inspired choice to bring Young Jean Lee's often funny, thought-provoking 'Straight White Men' to Broadway (now at Second Stage's Helen Hayes Theater), even if she wasn't able to solve the work's central problems."
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August 1st, 2018

"Lee's title-assuming it relates only to Americans…suggests something universal about a human subset that the very well-performed play fails fully to either exemplify or clarify…It almost seems as if Lee, uncomfortable with having written what appears in most respects a naturalistic play, felt compelled to add an unnecessary metatheatrical opening so as to maintain her avant-garde creds…The play has lots of vivid activity…but this doesn't make up for an essentially inert dramatic structure."
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July 23rd, 2018

"A thought-provoking play by Young Jean Lee with a terrifically entertaining cast...To her credit, the playwright doesn’t provide any clear answers herself...Lee has created her most accessible play... It is often funny, sometimes exhilarating...Shapiro (along with choreographer Faye Driscoll) works wonders in landing all the physical comedy."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Both a realistic play and a critique of realism. As the play revs up, under Anna D Shapiro’s brisk, lucid direction and the company’s spry, self-aware acting, the drama’s engine starts to overheat. And Lee is happy to let it burn...Though there’s a final Ibsenite discussion scene nothing resolves. Because how can it? No play, however shrewd, can change or compass the profound inequalities of American life, or even of American theater, and Lee is clever enough to know that."
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July 23rd, 2018

"The ensemble acting is terrific; while the actors look nothing alike, they show a real chemistry...Shapiro directs with assurance. The title promises too much; the characters are a very specific, atypical subset of straight white maledom. While the play offers much to enjoy, it does not go that deeply into the questions it raises."
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August 4th, 2018

"The arresting and provocative story...winds up being very upsetting despite big doses of laughter...As the play develops, the interactions build to serious, deeply upsetting confrontations...The actors are all very convincing in their characterizations. Thus the play becomes riveting despite its contrivances and unanswered questions. There is ample fuel for post-play thoughts and discussions, slickly engendered by the author’s writing. The production has been superbly directed."
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July 25th, 2018

“The direction and acting are polished and confident...Shapiro and her vibrant cast infuse zest and sting into what could have been a staged doctoral thesis...Not much happens for the first hour or so in the way of plot...The play is a weird blend of traditional family drama in the Arthur Miller vein, and a meta-view of those plays. It’s funny and entertaining, yet distant and cold at the same time.”
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July 28th, 2018

“Under the vibrant direction of Shapiro gave me an evening in the theater that was both thought-provoking and entertaining...Under Shapiro's steady hand, all three actors appear totally comfortable onstage and deliver performances that go far beyond cameo status...Shapiro finally tapped the show's understudy Stephen Payne to play Ed. Payne isn't a name like his co-stars but he is additional proof that this director really knows what her play needs."
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July 25th, 2018

"Tightly directed and finely acted...The lamentable absence of Ms. Lee’s voice on America’s most prominent stages is made stark following the impressive 90 minutes of her smart, funny, and surprising play, which proves the vitality and importance of elevating diverse voices in the American theater...This brisk, entertaining, and deeply thought-provoking play is never strident or sentimental. Lee, aided by Shapiro and her outstanding ensemble of actors, keep the story deeply human in its telling."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Clever if puzzling play...Directed with a brilliant, electric intimacy by Shapiro...Lee’s writing is sharply funny, with the gags and one-liners flowing sitcom-speed thick and fast...None of the straight white men on stage behave like the worst incarnations of straight white men. That’s Lee’s big trick on the audience...All of this domestic drama and comedy is beautifully written, acted, and directed...The energy of the play dips with its late-breaking battery of earnestness."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Boys, it seems, will be boys at any age — albeit especially fun to watch when played by an able, starry cast...Lee has never been one for easy answers, but here she seems to resist even posing more pointed questions. Under Shapiro’s direction, Schneider’s lost soul seems disconnected from his actions; neither here nor there, just drifting. This seems precisely the point, but watching him can feel like a similar experience — there’s not much to grab hold of, try as we might, to understand."
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O
August 4th, 2018

"Lee, the playwright, is a woman; and this play reveals her uncanny awareness of the ways in which men think and behave...The cast is impeccable playing four beautifully written men who are what used to be the mainstream of American life...More than just a complaint, I still ask why Shapiro or Lee felt a Rock’n Roll blast and a wild silver show curtain were needed to set the play up. But it does scream out at us: 'This is not a revival! This is today’s world!'"
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July 30th, 2018

"All of it is not what you’d expect and not what it may seem, which was exactly the point...The three brothers have a highly entertaining camaraderie, going into racy, silly shtick as if they were still pre-adolescents, and two funny set pieces emerge...The play, as directed by Anna D. Shapiro, is uniformly well-acted and quite funny, though the jokes are more persuasive than the pathos."
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July 23rd, 2018

"This is no dysfunctional family drama; these men all care about each other. Deeply...But the resolution, surprising as it may be, is unimportant. 'As foreign as they are to us,' Defoe gives us the crux in the opening speech, 'we’re gonna try to find some understanding for straight white men. That’s what we wish everyone would do for us.'"
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July 23rd, 2018

"The show talks itself in (mostly tedious) circles, around questions of identity, maleness, societal expectations, and so forth -- eventually coming to feel more like a graduate school seminar than a plausible drama...The actors are enjoyable...Yet the central conflict...is rather thin, and most of what comes out of these characters' mouths sounds unconvincing -- these aren't people so much as talking points. To be fair, Lee raises a few provocative questions."
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T
July 24th, 2018

“These are the most liberal white men in the history of the universe...The comedic part of this play works very effectively. Armie Hammer and Josh Charles are two of the brothers and they deliver top notch laughs. This play works best as a comedic sendup of upper middle class white guys having a jolly time...Half a really funny play doesn’t quite make up for the other half which is exaggerated baloney.”
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July 23rd, 2018

"Supported by director Anna D. Shapiro’s taut production, they take a funny, poignant, provocative look at family, gender roles, and 'progressive' tolerance. Lee destabilises the traditional naturalistic living room play with Brechtian elements...Lee probes masculinity, power, and the gendered value of labour. She deftly captures the family’s rhythms as they oscillate from teasing to concern to argument, breaking the tension with humour and physicality."
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July 26th, 2018

"It’s great to see the family dynamics...It is entertaining watching Armie Hammer and Josh Charles recreating their childhood shenanigans with deft performances...Anna D. Shapiro, the director, doesn’t do much to clarify the proceedings or bring any lucidity to an otherwise simple tale of a loving family brought together for the holidays...We are left here with not so much as a rewarding play but an unfulfilling setup of a premise."
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July 23rd, 2018

"Outdated and a little forced...What I got was a domestic comedy that didn't build much, and that ended with a message that was driven home repeatedly from the start...The piece still feels too long and repetitive for what it says...There's something pathetic about a production so eager to celebrate its landmark status and its edgy, challenging darkness by not being remotely edgy or challenging at all, but instead by furthering the careers of some already well-established white dudes.”
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September 5th, 2018

“A play about straight white men and their privilege, but it's somehow heartbreaking and about more than whiteness. It's also somehow about gender and roles and ideas of success...I was completely upended. Just the way everything seemed to be turned upside down - and not just for the effect of turning things upside down, but to show us ourselves, I think - was genius...I found it to be profoundly funny, profoundly sad, and profoundly unique.”
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