Robert Tanitch reviews Admissions at Trafalgar Studios, London SWI
American playwright Joshua Harmon, author of Bad Jews, has said he wanted to write a play which examined what it means to be white and privileged.
The background to his witty satire on white Liberal hypocrisy is the rising xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism in the US today.
17-year-old Charlie (Ben Edelman) doesn’t get into Yale University; but his best friend does. He doesn’t get the editorship of the school magazine, either.
His best friend, he claims, only got into Yale because he is black and similarly the girl who got the editorship only got it because she is a girl. He knows he is infinitely superior to them both.
His parents, white, middleclass Liberals, listen in silence to his tirade.
Joshua Harmon certainly knows how to rant (as those who saw Bad Jews will already know) and American actor Edelman (who won an award for his performance in New York) gets louder and louder and more and more hysterical.
Dad is disgusted with his son and calls him “an over-privileged brat, a racist, spoiled, little shit.”
Dad (Andrew Woodall) is Headmaster of a New England Boarding School. Mum (Alex Kingston) is the Admissions Officer. Both are very keen to increase the racial representation in the school.
There is an amusing scene when mum is discussing the school brochure with a flustered colleague (Margot Leicester) and insists there must be more black faces in the photographs; but this is not easy to achieve when there are a limited number of black faces available.
In the USA and the UK we live in a system that privileges the well-off and the well connected and handicaps the rest.
Publicly Charlie’s parents are politically correct; but privately they are willing to pull strings to make absolutely certain their son gets into an Ivy League University.
The Justice Department in the USA has just charged 50 wealthy parents with being part of a bribery scheme to get their children into elite colleges and universities.