Mediocre White Male – King’s Head Theatre, London

Reviewer: John Cutler

Writers and Directors: Will Close and Joe Von Malachowski

“Change is a thief” says the nameless protagonist in Will Close and Joe Von Malachowski’s shrewdly put together monologue, Mediocre White Male, currently programmed as part of the BOYS! BOYS! BOYS! summer season at the King’s Head Theatre. Stuck in a repetitive job as a talking stone statue in a dilapidated and decidedly ‘problematic’ Warwickshire tourist attraction, the 30-year-old has a clear idea of what has been stolen from him. Amongst other things it is his freedom to flirt with the younger co-workers he insists on calling girls and the time wasted at the company’s mandatory gender awareness course.

The character cheerily insists that he always tries to see things from a different perspective. But the problem with change is that he has been left behind; by former friends who have inexplicably ghosted him, by an ex-girlfriend who abandoned him for university, and by a society that seems to believe his way of thinking is toxic. There is no hiding his bitterness and aching longing for things to go back to the way they were. But hey, he is the kind of man with the heart to forgive, even where no apologies are on offer.

Close and Malachowski began writing Mediocre White Male prior to the pandemic. One gets the feeling they may have spent lockdown reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, because it soon becomes clear that the character’s recollection of events, however humorously imparted, is not aways reliable. Was it just one pint he downed before turning up, uninvited, at a local woman’s funeral? Just how old was his ex-girlfriend when he began dating her?

The drip-drip of revelations about the protagonist is very skilfully done, and there is enough comic ambiguity about his true nature to make for 60-minutes of consistently engrossing and often very funny theatre. The play’s political message, which suggests that embedded white male privilege has consistently facilitated predatory behaviour, is well made. Its associated conundrum, which is how much we can judge historical events by modern values, remains unresolved.

Will Close’s turn as the deluded and delusional protagonist, on a journey from complete self-deception to an incipient awareness that he may be the problem and not the victim, is exceptional. By the end of the show the actor’s ghostly white stage makeup is literally washed away by sweat and tears. As a symbol for what is revealed about the character beneath, it is telling.

Runs until 2 September 2022.

The BOYS! BOYS! BOYS! Season at The King’s Head runs until 10 September 2022

The Reviews Hub Score

Shrewdly put together monologue

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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