White Men

Allen Hall Theatre, University of Otago, Dunedin

19/03/2024 - 21/03/2024

Dunedin Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Abby Howells – Playwright
Elizabeth Audas – Director


Five white men (all played by women) find themselves sitting at the top of the world but the world around them has flooded before their very eyes and now the sea is lapping at their feet. They are running out of food, drink and time is dwindling so they …. have a meeting?

Venue: Allen Hall Theatre (90 Union Street Dunedin 9016). 19th, 20th and 21st of March 2024, at 8pm.

Ticket Prices are $15 (Concession), $20 (General Admission)

Book tickets here

Aimee Freeman – Greed
Caitlin Brennan – Ego
Emily Kerr-Bell – Power
Lily Reed – Knowledge
Lucy Brown – Fear
Mikayla Robson – Understudy

Kaiser Coles – Production Manager
Jordan Wichman – Producer
Josh Wiegman – Executive Producer
Abby Fernandez – Operating Officer

Theatre ,

1 hour

A well-crafted satirical punch at the patriarchy

Review by Beth Waite 20th Mar 2024

On an ever-shrinking island, five men – played by women – discuss at length what to do and how best to get out of their situation. However, the talking heads are at a standstill, and all that happens is, well… that is for the audience to find out. 

White Men, written by Ōtepoti’s own Abby Howells, is a satirical look at what happens when you let rich white men make all the decisions to survive a world-ending scenario. A very comedic idea indeed. This cast and creative team reunite after producing the piece as part of the long-standing Lunch Time Theatre Series at Allen Hall in 2023. This is the first production under the new production company Cue Go. The combination of playwright, director, performers, and producer cements the legacy and talent that continues to emerge from the Department of Performing Arts at The University of Otago.* 

The five actors give strong performances; there is no weak link on stage. As Chief Executive Officer, Emily Kerr-Bell creates a looming authoritative presence, staring down many of her taller castmates to significant effect. As Chief Financial Officer, Aimee Freeman is allowed the most comedic moments and thoroughly commits to the sleazy persona. The quiet and reserved nature of Caitlin Brennan’s Chief Operating Officer exudes the old money stereotype that permeates the narrative of men in power. As Chief Information Officer, Lily Reed is a master of manipulating the facts, and the brief moments of worry help build the tension between our deserted men. As Chief of Marketing, Lucy Brown plays the difficult role of the only sane one on this island well, and you can feel her frustration from the audience. The youthful quintet plays off each other wonderfully, keeping up the energy and pace that the script demands.

The choice by director Elizabeth Audas to place this performance in the round gives the audience the feeling that they are watching animals at the zoo or fish in a tank swimming meaninglessly from point to point. The performers rotate and move the action carefully around the small playing space to allow every side of the audience to connect with each character. However, there are moments of tension where I can only see the backs of actors or, because of the heights of cast members, I can only glimpse performances through gaps between bodies.

The lighting design by Jordan Wichman creates a great atmosphere, and the texture of the ocean washes over the entirety of Allen Hall. Much of the audience bathes in blue light throughout the performance, and while it symbolizes the rising tide for the characters, it also places patrons on full display. While the intent may be to ask the audience how complicit they are in the farce playing out on stage as we do nothing to solve the problems, I find myself more interested in whether the man in the back row is lonely.

I cannot help but wonder how this play was initially perceived in its premiere in 2021,** where the idea of white men talking about things and getting nothing done seemed a little less like the reality under Jacinda Arden’s time as Prime Minister. White Men feels less like a comedic satire and more like a glimpse into what meetings between the heads of our coalition government may be like. I would recommend spending an hour at the theatre laughing at the absurdity rather than worrying over a copy of the ODT.


* This reviewer acknowledges that she herself is an alumna of the department but stands by her statement.

** The play was first tested as part of the UNESCO City of Literature short play festival at Allen Hall in 2019.


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