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Young Jean Lee (#110 of 3)

Review: Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men Is a Deconstruction of Privilege

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Review: Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men Is a Deconstruction of Privilege’

Joan Marcus

Review: Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men Is a Deconstruction of Privilege’

The four main performers in Young Jean Lee's provocative and hilarious play Straight White Men are precisely attuned, like the members of a string quartet, playing off each other to create something richer than the sum of their parts. They're a true ensemble, though some are stars in their own rights: Josh Charles plays Jake, a divorced banker; Armie Hammer plays Drew, an acclaimed novelist; and Paul Schneider plays Matt, one-time valedictorian, Harvard man, and hardcore communist, now a temp living back at home, crushed by student-loan debt. All three are brothers, home for Christmas to see their widower father, Ed, played with gruff joviality by Stephen Payne.

Interview: Kate Bornstein on Their Broadway Debut in Straight White Men

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Interview: Kate Bornstein on Their Broadway Debut in Straight White Men

Santiago Felipe

Interview: Kate Bornstein on Their Broadway Debut in Straight White Men

When Kate Bornstein, self-described as a non-binary femme-identified trans person, talks about their remarkable life journey, it’s clear that at 70, the trail-blazing author of the seminal work Gender Outlaw and subject of the documentary Kate Bornstein Is a Queer and Pleasant Danger is still a formidable force to be reckoned with. Bornstein isn’t content on resting on their laurels as a pioneer in transgender rights and acceptance, acknowledging that positions they once held are always subject to reassessment. As the reader will learn from our interview, Bornstein, who’s debuting on Broadway in the new Second Stage production of Straight White Men, is uniquely positioned to broaden our vision on gender in a rapidly evolving world.

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.