Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Straight White Men" @ Studio Theatre

The facade along P Street, NW
 Today's local theater adventure took me to the Studio Theatre for the first time.  Another local institution of theatrical creativity, the mission of Studio (founded in 1988) is to foster local and regional talent while showcasing contemporary plays.  Studio Theatre is housed in a theater complex containing three stages, each with an eye to audience intimacy.

Located at the corner of P Street and 14th, NW, the complex envelops 3 buildings and offers 4 stages
The 14th Street entrance
The production I saw was "Straight White Men" by Young Jean Lee.  It is the story of a family, a tribe of white men: the widowed father, and his three sons.  They were raised in a liberal, progressive home and for the most part retain those moral values as well as their adolescent camaraderie.  The story occurs over a couple of days at and just after Christmas, with the principle angst being supplied by the eldest son's crisis of purpose in life.  The revelation of which leads to a competition of remedies which only result in revealing all the neurosis that modern life has saddled these otherwise respectable and capable men with as Alpha males in a culturally, socially, sexually changing world.
My front row seat again placed me in the living room with the actors, whom we were told would pretend we were not here unless our cell phone were to go off...yes, that's my forefinger in the corner of the photo, too!

I entered to the blaring soundtrack of Hip Hop classics Lil Kim's "Don't Want Dick Tonight (Eat My Pussy Right)" with the immortal lines:

Good dick I cherish, I could be blunt
I treat it like it's precious, I ain't gonna front
For limp dick niggas, that's frontin' like they willy
Suck my pussy till they kill me, you feel me?

And Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" and it ain't about no snake.  Now I know what you're thinking, God, Randy, don't go all Straight White Man on us!  But seriously?  It just didn't fit.  The characters would have more likely listened to Peter, Paul and Mary as Hip Hop.  The sound was so fucking loud people either stopped trying to chat politely OR were shouting--and for the prude in me...there were at least 3 small children in the audience.  Perhaps a questionable parenting choice, but no way could they have been anticipating this soundtrack to greet their arrival.  And to emphasize it's oddness, NOTHING that happened afterward in any way, shape, or form referenced it.  BAD CHOICE.
L-R The ensemble included Michael Tisdale, Bruch Reed, Michael Winters, and Avery Clark
 The actors themselves were compelling and had a wonderful chemistry together.  Fans of The Gilmore Girls might have recognized Michael Winters in the roll of the father. 

 The plots strongest points were its adherence to the strength and silliness of the sibling relationship between the brothers.  The writer being female and Asian left me really want to have a conversation with her about her inspiration/s for the story.  So endearing were the performances that when the story took a sudden serious turn, I found myself eager to hold on and go there, too--the miss-matched overture already forgotten.  

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