Saturday, June 11, 2016

Straight White Men

Tim Dugan, Kevin Meehan,
Steven Rishard & Dan Kern
InterAct Theatre Company, located in its new home at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks Street, is presenting Young Jean Lee’s stimulating Straight White Men through June 19.  While on the surface, Straight White Men is a funny tale of two brothers coming home to join their father and older brother over the Christmas holiday,  it represents, in fact, a pot ready to boil over. As the brothers (Kevin Meehan, Tim Dugan, and Steven Rishard) get together in the beginning of the tale, they reminisce about a spoof one of them had written in high school about the KKK and the hit song Oklahoma. Well educated and raised with privilege, none of the characters has been able to capitalize on this good fortune. Each has a different coping mechanism and this is displayed in the way he leads his life as well as the way in which he reacts to his siblings and father. Some times are carefree, when childhood memories surface and two or three of the brothers and sometimes even the dad (Dan Kern) reverts to remembered childish behaviors. There is a hysterical scene when Drew (Kevin Meehan) wants a drink of water, and after having received one, his two brothers each bring another.  They ask him, “Which one?  Choose one." He upends both plastic glasses of water so the water is poured all over his brothers’ faces.  Of course they are not about to let him get away with that…. Other times are more serious, as Drew discusses his divorce and two years of therapy and Jake (Tim Dugan), successful businessman, admits that he is not politically correct and part of his success is due to his not encouraging minorities because it would be unpopular in his firm.  Matt (Steven Rishard) is the oldest and brightest.  He is the most highly educated, having graduated from Ivy League schools but is living at home helping his dad and working temp jobs.  Everyone seems disappointed in him and when he is asked if he is going to continue to do that work full time he responds, “How can I? It is a temp job.” It would have seemed that he is content with his lot in life except that on two occasions he cries openly and will not discuss the reason.  This has the family in a tizzy and a conflict arises between the remaining brothers as to whether or not to confront him and “try to help.” This might be an indictment of American society.  Straight white men are not supposed to be so open with their emotions.  When Matt is, his brothers hound him and his father has a strange reaction. Young Jean Lee purposely left her tour de force open ended. This provocative piece will have you discussing its many layers for hours.  Be sure to get a ticket now before the run is over. For tickets or more information, call 215-568-8077 or visit online at

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