Theatre Review: Admissions Examines White Privilege At American Universities

Admissions, Trafalgar Studios ★★★★☆

Theatre Review: Admissions Examines White Privilege At American Universities Admissions, Trafalgar Studios 4
Photo: Johan Persson

One of the best things about Admissions at Trafalgar Studios is how far it will get up the noses of the 'woke' Twitterati.

It's a splendidly-written and acted play about white privilege, but for most of them it's the *wrong* sort of play about the *wrong* sort of white privilege — because it so successfully revels in satirising the American white liberal left.

Sherri (Alex Kingston) is a well-intentioned admissions officer in a New Hampshire secondary school, trying hard to make sure their quota of non-white students steadily increases. There's a great scene in which she berates Roberta (Margot Leicester) for failing to include enough variety in the photographs in the prospectus, till she rejects one mixed race student for 'not really photographing black enough'.

Chaotic hypocrisy ensues when her own son fails to get a place at Yale while his equally-able mixed-race classmate does. Cue accusations of box-ticking and the whole family house of cards collapsing as the parents use their connections to get him in to a 'good school' while the son (Ben Edelman, ferocious but overdone) wants to go to — gasp — community college and donate his tuition fees to a scholarship for a non-white child.

Couldn't be funnier, really, and nor could Josh Harmon's crackling script. Yes, it's peppered with lengthy monologue diatribes and has the deliberate irony that all this racial discussion is conducted only by white characters — but it has all the richness and contrarian excellence of his previous work Bad Jews. Just needs a snip.

Couldn't be more timely either, as a slew of wealthy and celebrity types in the States stand accused of buying places at top universities. It's not the same system in the UK, but it's still fun to watch.

Admissions, Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall, SW1A 2DY, £15-£70. Until 25 May.

Last Updated 15 March 2019