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. More…
It’s Christmas Eve, and Ed has gathered his three adult sons to celebrate with matching pajamas, trash-talking, and Chinese takeout. But when a question they can’t answer interrupts their holiday cheer, they are forced to confront their own identities. This is one white Christmas like you’ve never seen before. Directed by Tony Award winner Anna D. Shapiro.
“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.” Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
“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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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 telli... Full Review
"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." Full Review
“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.” Full Review
"'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." Full Review
“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 volati... Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
"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.'" Full Review
"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." Full Review
"'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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
“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.” Full Review
"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." Full Review
See it if This play looks at straight white men and their lives from a new vantage point. See it if you like clever new writing and excellent acting.
Don't see it if You can't imagine a new take on the father-son drama. See it anyway.
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.
See it if ...appreciate excellent actors in an excellent show with excellent writing. (Get the hint...excellent!)
Don't see it if ...you are looking for a fun night out, without any thinking or discussion.
See it if you like shows that have you thinking & talking about the issues as you walk out.This one really makes you think about male roles,privilege
Don't see it if you don't like good theatre, don't like to laugh, don't like to think, would rather watch Jersey Shore.Just go see it!!
See it if You like theater that will leave you asking questions of both the play and of yourself. Plays that are provocative of thought.
Don't see it if You do not like to have your world view challenged, or to have to use your brain at the theater.
See it if you want to see a fresh, funny & insightful study of human nature, familial bonds, inherent privilege, over/underachievement & masculinity.
Don't see it if you require a tidy & easy resolution to satisfy your experience; liberal guilt prevents you from sympathizing with the titular characters.
See it if You enjoy laughing and seeing a very well-written, realistic portrayal of brothers interacting, with deeper family drama.
Don't see it if You're a curmudgeon and don't like to laugh and/or hate loud music b/c there's very very loud rap music playing before the show starts.
See it if you’d enjoy a traditional family drama with a downtown edge; both easy-going and relentlessly thought-provoking. Excellent production!
Don't see it if You hate even an inkling of identity politics. You need everything tied up nicely in a bow at the end.
See it if You want to see a finely written play about toxic masculinity issues that is given a near perfect production.
Don't see it if You prefer your theater to be quietly spoonfed to you.
See it if This play upends conventions in a very insidious way. It's the outsiders view of these conventions that packs the punch.
Don't see it if You want to stay asleep to the questions of privilege that this play raises.
See it if you want to see a hilarious, insightful examination of privilege, masculinity & brotherhood. The talented cast has great energy & chemistry.
Don't see it if you are not open to frank discussions about white privilege, sexism & racism. You dislike loud music & characters breaking the fourth wall.
See it if you want to see amazing actors telling a story about relationships and human interaction that no matter race or gender you have witnessed.
Don't see it if you do not enjoy plays that result in personal refection.
See it if You enjoy laughing while having your brain picked. It’s an intelligently crafted piece of art.
Don't see it if You are easily offended or intolerant of others cultures, sexualities, etc.
See it if Low bar look at "being straight, white and male". Doesn't pontificate, but tickles the funny bone. Great cast
Don't see it if Looking for something less breezy and non-essential (still entertaining)
See it if you want a socially relevant, entertaining, well acted, evening on Broadway. Really enjoyed this show.
Don't see it if your reaction to the "me too" movement is sympathy for the male half of the species or you're sensitive to the plight of straight white men.
See it if you want to see a show that very cleverly shows white male privilege, but also is fun to watch. Armie Hammer and Josh Charles dancing = :)
Don't see it if you would actually have physical problems with very loud music and lights, like a club.
See it if you enjoy well acted, funny yet thought provoking plays. Even if you don’t want to “think” about it, it’s still entertaining to watch.
Don't see it if you can’t get past the title of the show, or keep an open mind.
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