Two White Guys Solve All the World’s Problems

Quondam Dreams—Planetarium Auditorium

Every Fringe seems to have at least one show that angers people and stirs up controversy; and Two White Guys Solve All the World’s Problems appears to be THAT show this year. The plot is simple; two ageing old friends spend some time together at the cottage. Lucas is the owner of the cottage, a relaxed, easy-going fellow content to isolate himself from the world’s problems and enjoy life. His friend is Mark, an uptight, increasingly angry and frustrated man who becomes more repellent as the show goes on, as he reveals more and more of his misguided attitudes. It’s Mark’s expressed opinions and inappropriate, racist, bigoted, and biased commentary that triggers the anger and controversy towards this show. What the playwright (Deejay Dayton, who also plays Lucas) is doing here is exposing the ugly reality behind so much of the world’s problems, expressed in the uncensored ramblings of Mark (an astonishingly courageous performance by Jeff Whyte). I’ve known many people just like Mark, unfortunately, content to blame the world for their problems rather than turn their gaze inward and realize that the real problems are within themselves. This show is funny, insightful, nostalgic, explosive, maddening, and thought-provoking, all at the same time, thanks to its hard-hitting script and gutsy portrayals of two very diverse characters. Shows like this are what Fringe Festivals are made for. Go and see it, especially if you feel like being challenged by something daring and unconventional. You owe it to yourself.

Mike Seccombe

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  

Two White Guys Solve All the World’s Problems

Quondam Dreams—Planetarium Auditorium

I chose this show because I had a feeling I might be in for a good laugh. Not to sound jaded, but I do think there are a certain amount of serious problems in the world that need addressing and thought that maybe these guys might have some insight. Who knows right? They might be onto something.

The story takes place at one man’s cabin in the woods (cottage at the lake? That sounds less sinister). His friend, going through a rough patch, arrives for some R&R. We quickly realize however that he is a very unrelaxed, very worked up and very misguided about the world and his place in it.

What follows is an interesting discussion between a man who has isolated himself, off the grid, in his cabin and is choosing to relax and enjoy life. He has chosen to remove himself from mainstream life and get away from the problems and make the most of his time here doing what he loves. The other, however, is angry, ignorant, and honestly a bit of a misogynistic dick. His divorce is his wife’s fault, he had no choice but to make seriously bad decisions, he’s a victim here, and issues in society are because of immigrants, or the LGBT community, or anyone he can point a finger of blame at with zero self reflection. Nothing is his fault and life is unfair and the world is a mess and he is SO angry (and wrong).

I felt, at least to my own hopes, that despite the claim to the contrary in the title, that nothing actually WAS solved by the end of the show. We see two friends who have very different views on the world argue, debate and ultimately disagree on major issues. Which is not uncommon. I spent most of the show cringing at the ignorant, insensitive and asinine opinions of the troubled man, uncomfortable with the knowledge that these twisted beliefs are not fabricated; its becoming clear that this violent ignorance is everywhere.

While I feel as thought the show ended suddenly and nothing was really solved, I think what I learnt is that yes, the world is a mess, but there is also a lot of good in it. The real place to start solving problems is being able to reflect on our own actions and how we ourselves can make changes for the better. The show is funny, relatable, and informative I suppose. Even though I share NONE of the opinions of our troubled divorcee.

Calantha Jensen