Letters – Letters to Jenny

I respectfully challenge the Free Press Frances Koncan’s review of “Two White Guys Solve All the World’s Problems.” I found the play to be a very well-constructed satire and most thought-provoking.

In this play, two middle-aged white men, Lucas and Mark, who have been friends since their teenage years, meet up after not having seen each other for several years. We know within minutes that we are in the world of satire when it becomes obvious that neither of these two individuals can solve even their own problems, much less the problems of the world.

I strongly differ with Koncan’s argument that the satire here needs to present a counter-argument to the racist, sexist, and homophobic toxic masculinity of the character called Mark. Satire relies on its target self-imploding with his or her own bombast. Well done, it requires no counter-argument. Mark is so horribly disgusting that he destroys himself, both physically with meth and socially with his toxic attitudes. This is obvious to the audience, and there is no need for a diatribe from the character of Lucas. Lucas is differently flawed. He is, as Koncan points out, passive and quiet, as so many of us are when confronted by horrifically inhumane perspectives such as Mark spouts. But Deejay Dayton, the playwright and the actor who plays Lucas, deftly controls a prolonged and intensely nuanced response to Mark. At first he is simply surprised that his friend has become so insensitive and socially skewed. Then he begins to point out flaws and inconsistencies in what he says. Then he calls him a “jerk” and an “asshole” for his blatant misogyny and erroneous perspectives, and, finally, in a poignant moment that brings the audience to stunned silence, responds to Mark’s challenge to “do something” about what he thinks and feels.

Koncan says that “theatre should also consider which voices and perspectives need to be amplified in our political and cultural climate.” It is perfectly obvious that Mark’s “voice” is unacceptable. Having Mark destroyed by a heroic character would turn the thing into a trite morality play.

Nothing is solved or resolved in this play. There are many moments for laughter during the conversation and the audience when I attended laughed often and freely. But they left the theatre pondering the “unsettling implications” just as Koncan wrote. Yes, I have heard that a couple of people have left the play early. That’s a pity. It moves to an end that provokes thought. And isn’t that what theatre is all about?

Bravo to Deejay Dayton for his courage to take on this timely but challenging topic and to both Deejay Dayton and Jeff Whyte for bringing it successfully to our Winnipeg Fringe.

Katherine McLennan