"Allies," a new play by Alexander Kventon, has appeared just as our society questions cultural identity.

It revolves around a group of six white men in a diversity meeting. The meeting takes up the whole ninety-minute play, although there is plenty of drama and a shocking ending, which I wont reveal here.

On July 7 and 8, Allentowns Between the Lines Theatre performed this drama in what it called an elevated reading, where the actors read their lines from the script but move about instead of just remaining in place. The format worked here, since the plot has the actors seated most of the time, and there was only one point where there was a pause to describe the action.

The men in "Allies" are graduate drama students who reluctantly meet due to a controversy. They have just finished auditions for "Othello." Since their class is exclusively white, women in their school have objected, so they are reluctantly being led in an inclusion discussion to explore their options. Allies

Malcolm (Jonathan Riker) is the moderator, full of buzzwords and feigned positivity. He is met with varying degrees of cooperation. Danny (Jason Roth) is confrontational. Adam (Will Morris) is skeptical but willing, at least in the beginning. Will (Suave Iglesias) just wants everyone to get along.

Seth (Justin Larsen) does not say much, but he has hidden emotions that do not come out until the climax. And Greg (Robert Coll), who appears in the last half hour, is almost a poster boy for toxic masculinity.

Things begin slowly (as they do in real meetings), but it is revealed that the men feel victimized themselves by the unseen women and their call for diversity. The men call the women "girls" throughout, without acknowledging it.

As the discussion takes side trips into gossip and opinions on acting, the participants reveal different aspects of themselves, including some that are quite dark.

The acting is very good throughout, notably from Riker as a nerdy, ineffectual facilitator and Roth as a man who witnesses the deterioration of his macho pretenses.

Some of the things that happen in "Allies" seem unlikely to occur among graduate students, as obnoxious as they might be in real life. That really does not matter, though, because this is a play of ideas. The themes might be brought up by any group, regardless of race, gender, or social class.

"Allies" was the directorial debut of Adam Newborn. Judging from this presentation, he will be doing more in the future, and "Allies" might be reprised sometime in a non-reading version.