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The “Straight White Men” Play by Young Jean Lee

The Plot and Characters

One of the most remarkable aspects of the play “Straight White Men” is, of course, the plot. The setting is rather simple as the main characters gather in their father’s house to celebrate Christmas. It seems that it is a story of successful and happy representative of the privileged class in the western society. At the beginning, this is all true. Light humor is a characteristic feature of the first part of the play. However, as the story develops it is clear that the representatives of the privileged class are not as successful or happy, as they seem to be. The three brothers have different lives, goals and achievements.

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The main characters are three middle-aged brothers who celebrate Christmas at their father’s house. Drew, the youngest son, is a successful fiction writer. Jake, the middle son, is a successful banker. The eldest brother is Matt and he lives with father and has had a number of temporary jobs for some social organizations. All these characters have their stories that are very lively. In fact, it is possible to recognize a neighbor, a family member or even oneself in one of the main characters. Clearly, one of the major focuses (at least, for me) is Matt who is questioning the essence of success and contemporary life. He is trying to understand what it really means to be a representative of the privileged class. His questions still resonate in my mind and it is still unclear why white straight men are expected to be high achievers and big sharks in all spheres of life.


To my mind, performance is what makes that story that appealing. All four actors are simply stunning. They manage to make their characters very lively and appealing. Each actor lives his story. As has been mentioned above, Matt is the central character as he is the one to question societal conventions. I like people who do not simply accept the norms but, at least, question them. More so, Matt asks questions I have also asked myself. I was taken aback when Matt started crying. I believe this is one of the strongest parts of the play and one of the brightest examples of the perfect performance of actors. Clearly, the rest of the actors were also very good. I especially loved the father who is charming and he is really the father everybody would like to have.


I would also like to add that I was impressed by simplicity and power of the setting. On the one hand, the play is set in an ordinary room of an ordinary representative of the middle-class. A very calm and cozy atmosphere is created. It seems that it is a story of a perfect day of a perfect family. On the other hand, the walls of the cozy room conceal a personal drama of a man who cannot understand where his place in the world is or should be. The contrast is created and it emphasizes the issues existing in the world.


To sum up, it is possible to note that the play is destined to be successful as it articulates issues that are in the air. I loved the characters of the play who are archetypical and exceptional at the same time. The playwright managed to create a very appealing story that touches people’s hearts and makes them think about very important issues.

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