Women play men in caricature of toxic masculinity

White Men cast (from left) Lucy Brown, Caitlin Brennan and Bella Kircher — who will not be...
White Men cast (from left) Lucy Brown, Caitlin Brennan and Bella Kircher — who will not be appearing in the Dunedin production — will bring their show to this year’s Dunedin Fringe Festival. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Five Dunedin women are tackling toxic masculinity by stepping into the shoes of white men.

A show by the same name debuted at the Allen Hall Theatre last night, as part of this year’s Dunedin Fringe Festival.

The show is a performance of a script written by University of Otago alumni Abby Howells in 2019, winner of last year’s Billy T award, and was produced as part of the Unesco Cities of Literature Short Play Festival.

Producer Jordan Wichman said the show was about a group of five men sitting atop a mountain, who in the face of a rapidly rising sea level spend the 11th hour in bureaucratic gridlock.

The five white men were all played by women, who Ms Wichman said had been keen to step into their shoes.

"It's quite an experience being a female presenting person, going out and pretending to be a very stereotypical white, powerful man in public," she said.

Each white man was named after a stereotypical male character trait: Power, Knowledge, Ego, Greed and Fear.

Their characters contained a few not-so-subtle references to these traits — Knowledge paraded around with Donald Trump’s autobiography, while Greed harboured a mysterious box that only he could glimpse inside.

"It's almost like when you watch the show, you're watching different caricatures ... very much larger than life."

While the cast of white men presented as their own individual characters, Ms Wichman said they all embodied aspects one could expect to find within the same stereotypical male executive.

The show was centred around a circular stage, which provided an interesting perspective on equity, she said.

Not only was the audience watching the performance, they were directly observing their fellow audience members.

It naturally tackled toxic masculinity and misogyny, but also canvassed politics, gender and climate change issues.

"As well as absolutely terrible dad jokes — can confirm we cover that too."

Ms Wichman said she hoped the audience would leave the show with an understanding of the "sheer inaction" that had come to be expected by those in positions of power.

It was important to remember the show was a comedy that parodied the stereotypes of a white male executive, and was obviously ironic, she said.

"The scripting and the way it's been directed is absolutely hilarious."

White Men is on at the Allen Hall Theatre at 8pm tonight and tomorrow night.