Sweat is play at Studio 54 located at 254 West 54th Street. It runs two hours and ten minutes with one intermission. It closes on September 17, 2017.
The world premier was on July 2, 2015 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It played in Washington, D. C. in November 2016. Sweat recently played at the Public Theatre in New York City.
Lynn Nottage is the playwright. She won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2009 for Ruined.
John Lee Beatty is the scenic designer. He won two Tony Awards for The Nance (2013) and Talley’s Folly (1980). He was nominated for thirteen more Tony Awards. John Lee won five Drama Desk Awards for Twentieth Century (2004), Diner at Eight (2003), Fifth of July (1981), Talley’s Folly (1980 and 1979). He was nominated for ten more Drama desk Awards.
Johanna Day was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Peter & Jerry (2008) and a Tony Award for Proof (2004).
John Earl Jelks was nominated for a Tony Award for Radio Golf (2007).
The place is Reading, Pennsylvania; the time is 2000 and 2008.
It is 2008 and we are in a police station. Evan (Lance Coadie Williams) is a detective. He is questioning Jason (Will Pullen) on what had happen in town. Jason has tattoos all over his face and arms. He has an attitude and won’t say anything. When Evan talks to Chris (Khris Davis) he is more open. Jason and Chris were best friends and just go out of jail. They had a confutation when they saw each other on the street.
We go back to 2000, month by month till we finally get back to 2008.
Most the scenes are in a bar. Stan (James Colby) runs the bar. His helper is Oscar (Carlo Alban).
Most of the town works in the plant, some for generations.
Cynthia (Michelle Wilson) is African American. Her friends Tracey (Johnna Day) and Jessie (Alison Wright) are there to celebrate Jessie birthday. Jessie is so drunk she’s passed out. Cynthia son Chris is friends Tracey’s son Jason. Both come in to hang out.
Tracey said they heard she took her husband Brucie (John Earl Jelks) back in their home. She said she did until she realized he stole somethings from her and she kicked him out again.
Brucie met up with his son. He tells him when he worked in the plant they were making cuts in the salary and other compromises. He said he went on strike saying he was a union man. The union didn’t help. Chris tells his dad he wants to go to college.
Cynthia is promoted to a management position. Her friends are jealous. She tries to assure them that she will be looking out for them.
The under lining theme is the plant is cutting down productions, removing machinery at night. The workers refuse to take cuts in their salary. They are afraid they will be fired. The plant sent flyers out for jobs at $11. Half of what they are getting.
Act two begins in 2008 in Jason and Chris mothers home. Life has changed while they were in jail. We find out what. We then go back to 2000 and it builds up to where we find out what happened to cause them to go to jail. It ends in 2008 and we see the results of what has happened.
This is a very sensitive, touching story. Given what is happening now with the wall from keeping Mexicans out. It could happen anywhere. I don’t want to give anything away. But Oscar applied for a part time job at the plant because it paid more than he was paid at the bar. He was accused of being Mexican. He said he was born here and was not Mexican.
The cast does an excellent job. Khris Davis does an amazing job as the young man trying to come to grips on what happened and get a hold on his life. John Earl Jelks, Johanna Day and Michelle Wilson shine in their roles.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
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