Writer: Pea Dinneen
Director: Pea Dinneen
Reviewer: Ciarán Leinster
Campus men’s rights activist groups, at their very worst, are almost too easy to satire, but here Pea Dinneen has produced a work that goes a good way to explaining the egos, the hypocrisy, and the fragility that both propels and paralyses them. White is set in a university society that uses crochet and knitting to disguise their racism and misogyny. The piece begins with Kevin Cleary playing several roles; of both men’s rights guru Rich White, and his adoring fans. This character is a blatant satire of the narcissism, attention seeking, and slippery word tricks of people like Jordan Peterson. He is both praised for being a near-messiah, and also for his humility. The problems begin, for Rich and also for the play, with the beginning of the core narrative.
Rich leads a band of dysfunctional men, imploring them to fulfil their masculinity, although this is, deliberately, never defined. In fact, they do very little, aside from getting interrupted by a cast of losers, and discuss the murder of an Islamic student, and the fact that one of them most likely killed him. Eventually, an Asian woman is taken hostage, and the group descends into in-fighting, showcasing their collective impotence.
Dinneen’s writing is at times exceptional, vividly satirical, and shows she has done her research into not only the content of these groups but also their mannerisms. However, at times she over-writes, as characters have rant after rant, becoming incomprehensible, and derailed not just the group, but the play itself. Several jokes were over-used and often fell flat. The ending was abrupt and unbalanced, which again points to a potential lack of creative discipline. That being said, Dinneen’s ability to understand, and write, the main character, is what shone through the most, and was clearly influenced by works such as Fight Club and possibly Die Welle.
The performances were generally impressive, but again rants were relied on too much in lieu of development and complexity; it seemed hard for the actors to do anything but perform the roles as they had been created. The bare set gave a universal look to the piece, but this reviewer was left wishing that it trafficked less in the language and context of America and that Dinneen turns her gaze closer to home.
Runs until 16 September 2018 | Image: Contributed