Last week, Eton was visited by actor/writer Will Close and director Joseph Hancock, who presented Will Close and Joe von Malachowski’s Mediocre White Male, a naturalistic one man show exploring issues including historical revisionism and toxic masculinity.

Mediocre White Male debuted at the Henley Fringe and then moved swiftly to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2021.

The play explores the life of a man, employed as a living statue in an historical attraction, who talks to his deceased ex-girlfriend, reminiscing on their relationship with, in the words of the playwright and lead role Will Close, a “crooked nostalgia”. The play begins very firmly in the territory of comedy, but as more details about the narrator’s life are revealed, our affection or even pity for the character soon disappears. The play was set in closed time, and kept the audience hooked by cleverly drip-feeding intriguing details and information that enabled viewers to finally understand the complete picture of the character.

The piece finished in a masterful and shocking way. A pause before the final line led the audience to believe that the protagonist was going to say one thing, but in the end he says something so shocking that gasps were heard amongst the crowd.

The play was a culmination of years of work, as Press Officers Louis K and Charlie L heard in a Q&A session after the show. It was inspired in part by Will Close’s summer job at Warwick Castle – an intriguing setting for a play, where he played a ghost. He wrote a treatment for a teleplay later, but it was 13 years after this that Mediocre White Male emerged. The show provided an interesting perspective on modern issues and asked us how far our empathy would go when pitted against outdated views and potentially immoral actions.

Eton’s drama pupils were also lucky to benefit from a series of workshops led by Will Close and Joseph Hancock, including a scriptwriting workshop open to pupils of all ages.