Mediocre White Male
- Gareth K Vile
- 6 August 2021
Fringe monologue about the dangers of male bravado in a period of inevitable change
In Mediocre White Male, co-writers Will Close and Joe von Malachowski allow an unsympathetic protagonist to argue for the value of male privilege. Beginning with an attempt to win over the audience with offensive humour, our nameless protagonist descends into more uncomfortable territory, eventually revealing the connection between his entitled toxicity and sinister predation. While he exposes his unreliable narration through subtle slips of the tongue and self-justifying anecdotes, this message is explicit and expressed with a direct brutality.
Will Close's performance captures the fragile exuberance of a man convinced that change, especially in gender relationships, is a matter of oversensitivity. Longing for the school playground and its litany of nicknames, his nostalgia is for a time before he found work as a character in a stately home's cast of talking statues, before his friends left for university and the love of his life abandoned him. He remembers the past as potential and playful; however, the unfolding details of his relationship with his best friend's sister ultimately condemn his memories and attitude.
If much of this humour fails to land, it establishes the self-pity and delusion of the protagonist; his lack of awareness strengthens the script's message, even as it lacks a complex emotional arc. The monologue becomes increasingly uncomfortable and scathing. Peppering his speech with phrases perhaps learned from his recent gender-sensitivity course, Close's character condemns himself through what he regards as acts of love and generosity.
Harrowing and savage, Mediocre White Male does not manage to evoke the moral complexity of a tragedy, while its humour highlights an awkward anxiety in the reclamation of male bravado. Like the protagonist's job as the ghost of a stately home, this is a warning against the dangers of male privilege, a vigorous and immediate essaying of the path from nostalgia to abuse.
Mediocre White Male, Assembly Roxy, until Sunday 15 August, 6pm, £13–£14 (£12 –£13).