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Austin Pendleton (#110 of 1)

Review: Straight White Men at the Public Theater

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Review: Straight White Men at the Public Theater
Review: Straight White Men at the Public Theater

Young Jean Lee both does and doesn’t traffic in subtlety. Two earlier plays by the South Korean-born playwright, The Shipment and Untitled Feminist Show, presented extreme versions of black and feminist theater tropes, respectively, to defamiliarize the ways we process race and gender on stage. In both cases the results were controversial (the former has particularly angered many of her spectators), but never simple. Among Lee’s charges against “identity” plays is the false sympathies they promote for characters who’re different from some presumed norm. It was only a matter of time, then, before Lee wrote Straight White Men, a play that targets the one racial group that few in the liberal class are inclined to feel particularly bad for. The result is as surprising and challenging as her other work, though almost unrecognizable in its approach.